The Band of Long Island marked a triumphant return to Steppingstone Park on Wednesday night, performing on July 4 for an audience of around 800 people.
Michael Flamhaft, a Great Neck resident the musical director of the Band of Long Island, said the group has performed at Steppingstone Park on other days.
But this was the first time they performed there for the Great Neck Park District’s annual Independence Day concert in five years, he said, after a 12-year streak had ended.
“The audience was incredibly appreciative,” Flamhaft said on Thursday. “It looked like everybody was still there. I don’t think we lost but a handful of people.”
Hundreds of people had gathered in front of an elevated stage with a sunset in the foreground, laying on blankets and resting on chairs, with the occasional child running around on the grass or dancing to the music.
“The new stage is fabulous and we had phenomenal cooperation from the crew who set everything up for us,” Flamhaft said of the parks employees, noting the risers, microphones and technical set-up. “That’s not a small thing.”
The group took on pieces like the “Star Spangled Banner,” “America, the Beautiful” and “Hail to the Spirit of Liberty” – more commonly known as “The 4th of July March,” as well as renowned composers like John Williams and Irving Berlin.
The performance also featured ragtime and waltz pieces, songs originally authored by famed entertainer and former Kings Point resident George M. Cohan, and the baritone voice of Jason Whitfield.
“I couldn’t be happier with my musicians,” Flamhaft said. “I have the finest musicians to be found.”
Ultimately, Flamhaft said, he was “amazed” by how many people attended and stayed until the end – especially considering it could sometimes be hard to get even 300 people to a show.
“So last night I was really really pleased,” Flamhaft said. “It was almost a little bit of a reminder of the golden days of yesteryear.”
In addition to the music, many people also crowded the pier with phones in hand to watch fireworks brighten the skyline.