2017-09-07 / Columnists

Babylon News & Muse

Although summer does not officially end until September 21, most of us consider it over once Labor Day has arrived. There’s a certain amount of sadness because the pools have closed and school has started, but there is a lot of excitement to come.

For those of you who are football fans you can find pleasure in the fact that where once football games were played on weekends only there are games almost every night of the week. To be honest, since I’m not a football fan, this is a waste of time in my estimation! Bring on those new television shows you have been teasing us about for the past two months!

Locally, we can look forward to the Babylon Fair, (Note that the word “Country” has been eliminated from the name of this annual event), which takes place this weekend. This event started out as a garage sale in the Babylon High School parking lot 46 years ago. The Babylon Beautification Society, started by my mother Isabel Gallagher, began with an effort to raise funds to buy baskets of flowers that would be hung from the tall wooden telephone poles along Main Street.

The following year the garage sale moved to Argyle Park. I vividly remember my mother recruiting my brothers and me to help. My younger brother, Rob, brought along a number of his friends who were a year or two out of high school. What my mother had envisioned them doing, I really don’t know. But what I remember is one of them seizing a huge baby carriage and climbing in, wrapping himself up as a six-foot three inch baby, while another donned a donated woman’s coat and raced the carriage along the lawns just west of Argyle Falls. The crowds they drew were generous.

The following year, we decided to sell some food as well. In the meantime, the funds were used to add more hanging baskets, this time on Deer Park Avenue as well. Wine barrel planters were placed on the four corners of the main intersection.

In spite of vandalism and theft, Babylon residents were delighted with the efforts.

Each year, the garage sale, now called a Country Fair, grew larger. More residents turned out to help the Fair grow. Crafts-people asked to display their wares, and began paying for the spaces to do so.

While the beginnings of the event were held in the summer, as it grew larger and more profitable, it was decided it would be held on the Sunday after Labor Day. Since then, the Fair has only had one rain date.

It is manned by area volunteers, and assisted by the Village Highway and Sanitation Department.

Working with Babylon Village, the Beautification Society has been responsible for so much of the beautification of Babylon. How many of you remember the band shell that used to sit in the southwest corner of the park, in the area west of the marina? It is one of the fondest memories of my childhood, attending the summer concerts at that band shell. I have no idea when the band shell was built, but by the early 1970s, it was on its last legs.

The first truly grand project of the Beautification Society was to replace the band shell with a gazebo. It took a couple of years to raise the funds, but that gazebo is a beautiful centerpiece to the village.

Other projects were selected, always working with the Village. New old-fashioned streetlights were installed, bit-by-bit, along Main Street and Deer Park Avenue. Now they light the main roads and business district and are decorated by residents for the holidays. In the summer, they carry the lovely hanging baskets.

Memorial trees were planted all around the business district as well as around Argyle Park; the area around Hawley Pond was landscaped; a village clock was installed at the corner of Grove Place and Deer Park Avenue.

This group, run entirely by Babylon residents, has initiated many other projects that beautify Babylon.

The Beautification Society has been responsible for making Babylon one of the loveliest villages on Long Island. Please be sure to attend the Babylon Country Fair this Sunday to support this outstanding organization!

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