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A treasured Greenport tradition returns as the American Legion opens its doors to celebrate a new beginning and a new year

The Greenport American Legion’s Burton Potter Post 185 last month. File photo: Courtney Blasl

At midnight on New Years Eve, the Greenport American Legion will celebrate its official grand reopening after years of effort by dozens of dedicated community members.

“When the ball drops at midnight, the Greenport American Legion will be reborn!” said general manager Mindy Ryan, who was determined to get the building in good enough shape to have a party on New Year’s Eve.

“When I first started talking about taking the manager’s job back in August I said to the guys, okay we’ll have a New Years Eve grand opening,” said Ryan.

It took two months before Ryan started the job in mid-October, but with the help of volunteers and business and community members, she has managed to achieve her goal.

“The entire undertaking was made possible by free or generously discounted labor and free or at-cost materials,” Ryan said. “I’ve seen subcontractors come through here with their whole crew to bang out a project and then say ‘no charge’.”

The 64-year-old building was once the heart of the Greenport social scene. The roller skating rink was a place for local youth to gather with friends; the hall was used for weddings, dances and parties. After the building fell into disrepair Legion member George Costello spearheaded an effort to bring it back to life. After Costello passed away in 2012 other Legion members picked up where he left off.

The work has been slow but steady and the renovation is approaching completion. A new south wall was built, the roof, electric and alarm systems replaced and new heating and sprinkler systems have been installed. A drop ceiling was removed and the skating floor replaced. See previous story.

Ryan is thrilled to be bringing back a treasured Greenport tradition: the New Year’s Eve party at the Legion.

The party will feature dinner and dancing to music of the 60s and beyond by the band Jukebox Live. The band will also provide “mood lighting for dancing” Ryan said. There is no dress code and people are encouraged to dress comfortably for dancing.

There will be no skating at the party, Ryan said, but the skate rink should be open in late January. It will be renamed the George D. Costello Sr. Memorial Skating Rink.

All funds raised from ticket sales, a 50/50 raffle and gift basket raffle will go toward the continued improvements on the building. Ryan stresses that even though they are opening, they are not “finished.” Money is needed to complete the upstairs member room and insulate the exterior of the concrete block walls.

Ryan points out that the project couldn’t have happened without the help of the many volunteers who have given their time, talent and money over the years.

“Some of these volunteers have worked so long and so hard,” she said.

“I’m honored to be a part of this project,” said Ryan.  “It’s truly heartwarming to see a community come together to make a project of this magnitude a reality. It’s going to be an emotional night for sure. George will be proud of all of us.”

The party takes place Dec. 31 from 8 p.m. to midnight at 121 Third Street, Greenport.

There is a limited number of tickets available. Tickets are $60 each, $100 for two, $400 for a table for eight and $500 for a table for 10. Advance ticket sales only; click here to purchase tickets.

For more information call 631-333-2644

Katharine is a writer and photographer who has lived on the North Fork for nearly 40 years, except for three-plus years in Hong Kong a decade ago, working for the actor Jackie Chan. She lives in Cutchogue. Email Katharine