250th Anniversary of Suffolk County, Riverhead, 1933. (Image from the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)
In 1933, with almost 18,000 people in attendance for the parade and pageant in downtown Riverhead, the 250th anniversary of the founding of Suffolk County
was successful beyond all expectations. The preparations were made by the anniversary committee, headed by former Suffolk County District Attorney George W. Hildreth as chairman, and included a great parade in which all ten towns of the county were represented by elaborately decorated floats. Uniformed military and volunteer firemen, school bands, town officials, Boy and Girl Scouts, and the Suffolk County Historical Society, among others, also participated in the anniversary parade. Marching tunes were played by 14 bands, and 40 fire departments were represented by their members and fire trucks. An old horse-drawn, steam-driven pumper of the Riverhead Fire Dept. occupied a place of honor as it was pulled through the streets, whistle shrieking and black smoke belching from its stack.
The judging committee awarded beautiful silver cups for outstanding floats and other parade entries in various topical categories. Awards for floats that depicted events of historical significance, for instance, went to the Shelter Island Community Club for its Sylvester sisters float, to the United Polish Society of Riverhead for its "Landing of the Puritan Settlers," and to Congressman Robert Bacon for a "Smithtown Bull Rider" float. Honorable mentions went to Southold for "The First Court House" float and to the Long Island Lighting Company for its portrayal of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Awards for fire departments went to Westhampton Beach Fire Dept. for the most men in line and to Huntington Fire Dept. for most apparatus in line. Southampton won an award for having the largest town
representation in the parade.
Suggested Reading: 250th Anniversary of Suffolk County, 1683-1933, Celebration at Riverhead, New York, Souvenir Program, 1933.