Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nautical Mile Festival 2012 News...Or not...?

Howdy Freeport!

As you've probably inferred from the title of this article, there's been more than a little confusion about a 2012 Nautical Mile Festival.  Ordinarily and historically held on the first weekend of June, there's been a tremendous void of communication about the event's fate, and I'm led to believe by the lack of concrete evidence that there simply shall not be one in June 2012.  However, also due to the lack of any clear communication, I can't guarantee there won't be one held in October, or December, or next February for that matter.

Yup.  In my opinion (both personal and, in my capacity as a writer/media specialist/consultant, professional), that's how badly this has been handled.

See, first of all, if you don't have Newsday/Optimum Online/Cablevision, it might be hard to read this article.  As I personally don't, for reasons I'll approach later, I call BS on the public relations people in the Village; but on March 8, 2012 Newsday reported that the Festival would be held in June, on schedule.  Fast forward to April 21, 2012 and you get another Newsday article suggesting it will be held in October, instead.  An article from the Freeport Leader seems to reinforce this take.  Of course, we also have a screenshot of Mayor Hardwick stating on the popular "Keeping the Festival on the Nautical Mile" page that the June date is -not- cancelled, though it seems to imply haphazardly that it is postponed without ever taking place.

Now, in response to continued confusion, I attempted to check the Village webpage for any updates and found, of course, none.  I -was- able to locate the page for last years Festival, however.  Hurray!  And that helps Freeporters and visitors who are looking to go to this year's Festival how?

The Buck Never Stops

Look, I'm not trying to argue whether or not the Festival should be held at all, or if it should be held in June or October.  In fact, having been in at least one meeting specifically about the Festival, and having spoken to more than one business owner, I know that many people don't want it, or want it in October when business starts to lag and can use an injection of cash.  That's a good argument to have, but its not the one I'm making, nor am concerned about.

I'm making the argument that the Village administration has done so bad of a job at keeping people informed on this issue that...No.  No, actually, it hasn't done a job on this.  No website posts?  No before-the-event-weekend confirmation of its status?  Nothing?  Folks, this is supposed to start tomorrow night!  Its always been the first weekend in June, for well over a decade, and the Village has given us nothing confirming its status.

And here is why this is a problem:  If for the last ten years people have known exactly when it starts, let me reiterate the obvious - they're not gonna know its not happening, this year.  Freeport going to get a huge, huge crowd down on the Nautical Mile, all folks expecting the Festival to be going off without a hitch (mostly non-residents) and it isn't going to have the police manpower, medical personnel, or even proper operating space to deal with the influx of people.

In short, I'm genuinely afraid of a disaster unlike any of the last few years' Festivals, those which have been so maligned in the press and in the public view.

I could be wrong.  Hell, I hope I am!  I hope someone can rub this in my face and go, "Eat it, Pohlman, you were wrong!"  Why?  Because it means nobody gets hurt.  But if (thankfully not when) something goes wrong, it should be known that this scenario wasn't an unforeseeable problem.  It was very, very easily seen.  A "press release" aired on Channel 12 (which, again, only Cablevision subscribers can see) along with contradictory announcements in Newsday - all put forth more than a month before the event, with nothing in the one or two weeks actually leading up to it?  That's a failure of public relations, and one which may prove catastrophic.

In fact, Mayor Hardwick, I believe you still have my E-Mail address.  I am available to manage a publicity (or cancellation-of-event) campaign.  Contact me, and I'll give you a good rate.  Considering the task-at-hand would be making sure people don't show up to a party that we're not having, however, I'd have to work quite a bit of overtime to fix this particular mess.

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