The loud noises coming from the Sayville Fire House on Saturday night weren't the sirens for once. It was the cheering and screaming of a packed house as they held their Night At the Races fundraising event for the Resolute Hose Company on Oct. 23.
"We had about 170 people attend," said Wendy Liu, public information officer for the Sayville Fire Department. "Members' families and friends always make up a large part of ticket sales, but we also get support from the general public. Although tickets are pre-sold, there were still many people who bought their tickets at the door."
The department has held the fundraising event for more than 10 years and this was one of the most successful years in terms of attendance. All proceeds of the event go to the Resolute Hose Company. Aside from the racing, there was also a 50/50 raffle, door prizes and a raffle for "mummy" plants – a mum filled with lottery scratch-offs.
Eric Schwint, lieutenant with the Resolute Hose Company, said this year's event was one of the most well attended he has seen. The horseracing is intended as an audience participation activity to entertain the guests. The fire department gets the DVD of the races from an entertainment fundraising company and the DVD is sealed so nobody knows the outcome of any races. Sayville Fire Department's Don Corkery, who was emceeing the event, had an audience member open the DVD in front of the crowd to prove its authenticity.
There were 10 races throughout the evening, and attendees had a preview of the horses before they made their picks. There were a few daily doubles races and even a roulette wheel for guests to spin and win during the night. "It's a good fundraiser for us and a great inexpensive night out for many people," Schwint said. "We have many people who come year after year because it's just a lot of fun. Every year we do this and every year it just gets bigger and better."
"It's a fun night out and well worth the money," said Carol Bryan of Sayville, who has been coming for many years along with her husband Ray. "We usually win something every year and the odds are better than Vegas."
As part of the $5 ticket price, hot dogs, pretzels and cake were available to snack on. Many of the regular attendees, however, opted to bring their own appetizers to munch on as tables were packed with everything from salads to cheese platters to dessert samplers.