By Douglas Feiden
Nothing like an oversized check for $131,025 to bolster spirits, foster camaraderie — and for a few shining moments, spur an exchange of hugs, a round of applause and even the odd signs of affection and warmth at the Sag Harbor Municipal Building.
The photo-op check, a blown-up version of a very real check made out to the village, was presented at a Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday by the Sag Harbor Partnership to help pay for the costs of the proposed John Steinbeck Waterfront Park, which the village hopes to develop as an emerald Eden behind the 7-Eleven.
That windfall stemmed from “The Big Tent: Party for the Park,” the hugely successful July 10 fundraiser held on Long Wharf that drew 800 people and posted rock-bottom ticket prices of $50, one of the lowest ever recorded for a major East End summertime gala.
Organized by the Partnership with a let-everybody-in ethic, the event was billed as a “party for the people and a party for the park” — and it far exceeded expectations by raising 2 ½ times the $50,000 planners had projected to help underwrite a new park on the last big undeveloped waterfront parcel in Sag Harbor.
“This is wonderful,” said Mayor Sandra Schroeder as the check was presented. “This is phenomenal! It goes straight up on the wall. I just want to say on behalf of all our residents and our board, ‘Thank you so very, very much.’”
Then the four trustees present applauded the Partnership board members and sponsors, and the nonprofit’s organizers in turn cheered trustees. There were handshakes, embraces, good-fellowship, and everyone posed for pictures by the super-sized check.
The funds transferred to the village were the net proceeds of the “Party for the Park!” from accumulated ticket sales, art sales and sponsorships after expenses, said Susan Mead, the Partnership’s president.
“It won’t be used for lawyers or legal fees,” she said, referring to an understanding between the village and the nonprofit. “And we’ll get reports every 90 days so we can tell the sponsors and underwriters who were so generous about how their money is being used by the village.”