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In Broad Channel, as anywhere that people celebrate Thanksgiving, thoughts of our families are foremost in our minds. What makes our community special is the fact that we tend to view our little community on the bay not simply as a neighborhood, but as our “home,” and our friends and neighbors as extended family. 

Hard to believe in this day and age, but Thanksgiving in Broad Channel still remains a family-centric holiday, consisting of a day of humble introspection with an accompanying acknowledgment of and a real appreciation for the myriad blessings we all enjoy. Okay, don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to imply that Thanksgiving celebrations in the Channel are a “Mayberry RFD” affair, but unlike many other communities, we continually struggle to ward off the otherwise widespread transformation of Thanksgiving into a “gateway commercial holiday,” almost indistinguishable from the following day’s (“Black Friday”) start of a frenzied and seemingly endless number of holiday sales in an effort to maintain our comfortable niche on the Thanksgiving celebration scale, which leans more towards Norman Rockwell rather than Norman Bates.

Oftentimes it’s hard to explain to those who do not live here, exactly what it is that makes our small town so unique. I always tell those who are curious enough to inquire, that without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community. Those of us who live here can appreciate the extensive sense of caring shared by all residents for each other, our town and our environment. It is this strong sense of caring that binds all of us together as a community. This sense of caring has served our town well since 1875 but is probably best exemplified by the devastation wrought by Super Storm Sandy back in October of 2012. 

In the space of but a few hours, the waters of the Atlantic Ocean surged into Jamaica Bay and rolled across our island, transforming the vibrant 21st century town of Broad Channel into an early 1800s coastal village lacking power, communication, transportation, fuel, sanitation, food, habitable living space, churches and schools. The realization slowly dawned on all of us that not only had we suffered incredible individual losses, we had also lost what most of us hold most dear…that which keeps us anchored to our island community – our town.

Although the Thanksgiving immediately following Sandy was celebrated as best we could with shared turkey dinners at the American Legion, it was perhaps a  holiday more memorable than those past as each of us had the opportunity to realize just how much we had to be thankful for as we prepared to pull together to restore our community!

And pull together as a community we did! Together we shared laughter, tears, frustration, elation, sorrow, hope, food, drink, showers, towels, soap, clothes, money, tools and much more. But most importantly, together we endured that disaster and came away from the shared experience with a new sense of hope and purpose. Six years later, as we all celebrate Thanksgiving this week in 2018, we should all be thankful and proud of the fact that, regardless of any adversity thrown our way, we remain a united, strong and caring community, very much alive with the hopes and aspirations of all our residents. 

Although I, like many of you, may often take this grand old town of ours for granted, I think on this Thanksgiving Day our small island community on the bay deserves a special shout-out.

Happy Thanksgiving Broad Channel! Why would anyone want to live anywhere else?

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