NPS Hosts Final Campfire Of Summer
National Park Service Ranger John Lincoln Hallowell arrived at the Riis Park, Bay 14th Beach armed with a shovel, a bundle of wood, some paper for kindling and a lighter, shortly before 7 p.m. on Friday, August 30. He walked toward the water and stopped on the beach about 20 feet from the shore where he dug a sizeable hole in which he built a lovely fire. During this process people began streaming in with beach chairs and blankets and taking their places around the blazing fire which, along with the beautiful red moon, cast the only light on the gathering group after the sun had set. This was the final summer campfire on the beach sponsored by Gateway National Recreation Area and it couldn’t have been a more perfect night.
Once the fire was at a comfortable level, Ranger Hallowell brought out his own acoustic guitar and joined members of the Rockaway Theatre Company who had come to entertain the crowd with an old fashioned campfire sing-along. RTC performers John Gilleece, Alan Rosenfeld, Richard Louis-Pierre and Jodee Timpone sang some old favorites, and to facilitate audience participation, they distributed lyric sheets and flashlights to the guests. Being so close to the ocean, many of the songs they chose had a water theme such as “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore,” Jamaica Farewell,” “Sloop John B,” “Yellow Submarine” and an old audience favorite, “The Drunken Sailor.” Ranger Hallowell, (known to his friends as Linc), joined in the harmonies on these and many other tunes, taking the lead on a rousing rendition of the old Irish tune, “The Wild Rover.”
The crowd seemed to truly enjoy the entertainment and both adults and children sang along enthusiastically while roasting hot dogs and marshmallows over the open fire. This was the last of a series of campfires on the beach presented by the NPS during the summer months.
RTC performers were delighted to have the opportunity to participate and really enjoyed harmonizing and vocalizing with this wonderful group of people in the silvery moonlight. The Rockaway Theatre Company operates in partnership with The National Park Service and as John Gilleece, who is the group’s artistic director, told the crowd, “We had a great time and we hope to see and hear all you wonderful people again in October at the first NPS Autumn campfire.” The group ended their set at about 8:45 p.m. with “Happy Trails.” A good time was had by all.