In January, the newly launched Amagansett Chamber of Commerce took to its Facebook page to ask its virtual audience: “What would you like to see the Amagansett Chamber of Commerce focus on for 2013?”
The question generated a buzz, and answers ranged from serious responses like more live music at the Amagansett Square, creating public restrooms, and promoting the hamlet as an arts community, to things like “more free beer” and “banning fedoras”— a hat that’s become symbolic of a growing hipster population that has greatly annoyed year-round residents.
The chamber’s getting to work on the fedora ban, joked Michael Clark, owner of Crossroads Music, the Main Street music store in Amagansett. He’s one of the 20 or so businesses that belong to the fledgling chamber.
“Were calling 2013 the year of the fez as opposed to the year of the fedora,” Mr. Clark said.
All kidding aside, the Amagansett Chamber of Commerce, which was an idea that was two years in the making, is a serious organization and here to stay, according to President Lee Satinsky, who owns the Computer Shop in Amagansett, and Vice President Patty Sales, who used to be a longtime employee in Amagansett. The group’s first official order of business is to manage and raise funds for the hamlet’s very own Am O’Gansett Parade, which will make its way down Main Street this Saturday, March 9, starting at noon.
The parade, which is in its fifth year, was born when someone told Mr. Satinsky and Ms. Sales that “you can’t just start something like a parade.” They stepped up to the challenge.
“And Patty and I were like, ‘Yeah, we can,’” he said. “We did it. And now it’s just out of control.”
It is largely a joke—Mr. Satinsky calls it “the world’s shortest parade”—as it only lasts about 10 minutes. It has evolved over time, and has drawn what parade organizers say is a bigger crowd each year.
“I don’t know, it just kind of happened,” Mr. Satinsky said about the little parade’s growing popularity. “We just want to make fun stuff happen in town, so we’re doing it. And that’s where the chamber comes in as well.”
One of the advantages of establishing an Amagansett Chamber of Commerce is to provide “a voice to Amagansett,” Mr. Satinsky said. As a business owner, he said he wants to be able to grow and also wants to have a say in planning events around his community, like some other chambers in town do.
The Amagansett Chamber of Commerce will make the hamlet “a destination rather than just some place you’re driving through to go see the lighthouse or get to Montauk or something,” said Ms. Sales.
“There’s a lot going on,” she said. “We want to really put it on the map. The response has been really great. Everybody’s really, really on board.”
The fifth annual Am O’Gansett Parade will be the first major event hosted by the chamber. Mr. Satinsky said there will be a raffle for a 27-inch iMac computer after the parade is over. Tickets are $20 apiece or six for $100.
The Stephen Talkhouse will host an after-parade party, which will be “very family friendly,” said Ms. Sales. D’Canela Restaurant in Amagansett is catering the food.
This year’s grand marshal will be Htun Han, a real estate broker with the Hamptons Realty Group. He will march in the parade along with other groups of people, including the Girl Scouts, Amagansett Fire Department and possibly East Hampton Fire Department as well as Matt Schmitt, who was crowned Mr. Amagansett at a pageant in February, and others, according to Ms. Sales.
For Mr. Clark, an Amagansett chamber can only help the local economy. It will help “pool our resources and pool our thoughts and become a team and have a common plan to make sure that’s happening,” he said.
“It’s necessary in any town,” he said. “In my opinion, and this is totally my opinion, the only people that are going to fix the economy is us, locally. It’s not going to be fixed by these knuckleheads in Washington, or anyplace else.”