Fire Island is the perfect getaway for the summer. Any visitor should begin their adventure with Ocean Beach, the unofficial capital of the island. The beautiful ocean view and small-town vibe make this the place-to- be for tourists. A few miles east of Ocean Beach are the LGBT-centric communities of Cherry Grove and the Fire Island Pines. Next up is the Fire Island National Seashore, which features park facilities across the entire island. Among these facilities is the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness, a crown jewel of untouched beach and forest that can be seen for miles. Lastly, Fire Island is home to history rich restaurants that include casual and fine dining.

In the wake of a coastal hurricane event of historic proportions ravaging Fire Island less than six months ago, the question people are now asking will Fire Island be ready for the summer crowds in 2013? The answer is a resounding yes as residents, municipal officials, and merchants of local businesses are mobilizing to bring Fire Island back. There have been challenges every step of the way, but the rate of progress remains swift, and it can be said with confidence that a positive visiting experience is in store for the tourists and vacationers who make Fire Island their destination this summer.

“There has been a lot of sensationalized media coverage about the devastation Hurricane Sandy brought to Fire Island, but very little about our progress and restoration efforts since then,” explains Laura Mercogliano, proprietor of The Palms Hotel in Ocean Beach, NY. “This is a disservice to small business owners as well as the public who come to enjoy Fire Island.”

If there is anyone who knows about restoration efforts, it may very well be Laura Mercogliano. She and her husband Chris purchased and renovated aging economy lodgings in the center of Ocean Beach and founded The Palms Hotel in 2005. Over the next five years their thriving business grew to include satellite establishments on the east and western ends of Ocean Beach that included a range of luxury suites and cottages, and in short order The Palms gained the reputation of being one of the premier resort hotels on Fire Island.

They have no intention of allowing the storm to interfere with their plans for the summer of 2013. These plans include the unveiling of the Presidential Penthouse Suite, their most palatial unit to date at 1200 square feet, with four bedrooms and amenities that include a personal attendant. They also have undertaken their first restaurant venture with the acquisition of CJ’s, a legendary bar and casual eatery in the heart of downtown Ocean Beach. The institution that is CJ’s almost ceased to be with the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy, as would-be purchasers backed out of the deal upon assessment of the damage. However where one party saw loss, the Mercoglianos recognized new possibilities. CJ’s is now scheduled to open its doors next May.

Fire Island may be many things to different people, but when all is said and done Fire Island is a barrier beach, which by definition means it is constantly developing and rebuilding itself. Fire Island weathered the storm, and its cherished heritage has emerged stronger than ever.


fire island storm sandy


The National Parks Service  has released a statement and confirmed with that the few remaining New York nude beaches on Fire Island will no longer be a clothing optional atmosphere.

Effective immediately, state nudity laws will be enforced at Fire Island National Seashore”

New York State prohibited public nudity in 1984, but the federally operated parks department on Fire Island opted not to enforce those laws. However, this has now changed and violation of this law, a class B federal misdemeanor, may result in a fine as high as $5,000 and six months in Jail a very hefty price to pay to let it all hang out.

The beaches that this affects are:

  • Lighthouse beach, from the western boundary of the park to the western boundary of Kismet.
  • The Sailors Haven tract, from Point O’ Woods to Cherry Grove.
  • One half mile on either side of the Barrett Beach lifeguard stand.
  • One mile on either side of the Watch Hill lifeguard stand.
  • From the Wilderness Visitor Center to the breach at Old Inlet

Why the sudden change in policy?

This news comes at a time when Fire Island is recovering from one of the worst storms in its history.  According to the parks department the effects of Hurricane Sandy did play a role in this decision, however they are clear to state the decision is based on a number of factors, including:

  • Conflicts of use.
  • Public safety hazard due to the lack of adequate facilities for trash and human waste.
  • Lack of Dune protection: Hurricane Sandy leveled the dunes in this area, which increases the visibility of the beach from other public use areas.
  • New Habitat: The Hurricane sandy over wash areas left by the storm created added habitat for sensitive species in the area.
  • Increase in criminal activity in the designated clothing-optional areas.

Fire Island’s Best Hotel of 2013!

The Palms Fire Island, located in the unofficial capital and quintessential beach town of Ocean Beach Fire Island has again been ranked the #1 Hotel on Fire Island. We expect to see this continue as the owners of this establishment have a keen eye for beach chic and a business acumen that has led to multiple luxury boutique hotels on Fire Island, and the 2013 purchase of the popular CJ’s Bar and restaurant, a Fire Island landmark.

“The Palms is a boutique hotel in Ocean Beach on Fire Island which offers luxurious accommodations in a relaxed and inviting atmosphere. Unlike typical hotels on Fire Island, the Palms distinguishes itself as having the finest amenities with the highest standard of customer service”

The staff at will be taking another tour of the hotel and will report back with a full discovery of all  new feature you can expect for 2013.

The Palms Hotel Group
168 Cottage Walk
PO Box 431
Ocean Beach, NY 11770
(631) 583-8870

The Palms Hotel Fire Island Fire Island Hotels Fire Island Hotels The Palms Hotel Fire Island The Palms Hotel Fire Island The Palms Hotel Fire Island The Palms Hotel Fire Island

The Palms Hotel Group, owners of The Palms Hotel Fire Island, announced that they are the official new owners of CJ’s bar & restaurant.

Bay Shore, NY. January 12 , 2012

With the beach feel charm of CJ’s the new owners plan on giving the facilities a modern update. Laura Mercogliano owner of The Palms Hotel Group stated, “We want to maintain the aura of the famous eatery, but at the same time we plan on giving the space some subtle upgrades…” The locals of Ocean Beach love the eatery, and the new owners would like to keep that homey, authentic feel.

The devastation of Hurricane Sandy dragged in four feet of ocean water into the building, the new owners are just excited to put that behind them and rebuild. The community of Ocean Beach has already started to feel home again and many local businesses plan to be up and running by Mother’s Day Weekend.

About CJ’s Bar & Restaurant
Open since 1971 CJ’s named after the original owners son has been a staple to the Ocean Beach Community. Best known for as being “The home of the Rocket Fuel” The restaurant which is one of the few that have been open year round since the 70s has the feeling of “cheers” where you walk in and everyone does know your name.

About The Palms Hotel Group
The Palms Hotel has been open on Ocean Beach since 2005. Going from one location on Bay Walk to now 5 all around the town of Ocean Beach. Expanding to a new location each year, guests of the hotel can stay in rooms with accommodations of twopeople to full cottages with four bedrooms, full kitchens and living rooms. For more information please visit

The Palms Hotel Group
168 Cottage Walk
PO Box 431
Ocean Beach, NY 11770
(631) 583-8870

The Palms Fire Island CJ's


By. Shosanna McCollum

Storm Diary: Part II

Random Thoughts: I worry. Worry about the FEMA people. Was the 1- 800 number I was given legit, or was it a bunch of scam artists who drained my bank account? Of course they were the real FEMA people. A stack of papers arrived from them the following week. I am defensive. Some people’s concern is genuine and good, but for others it is a device used to exploit and our drain energy. The fine line between helpful to invasive can be crossed all too easily. I have my doubts. Radio commercials will carry on about so-called fund-raising concerts to aid the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Exactly how do these musical people intend to aid us? What support will reach Fire Islanders in a way that is tangible?

Wed. Nov. 7 – A nor’easter is predicted to come in. While there is talk of another evacuation taking place this is not true. The police know who is here and some of us have been asked if we are staying, advised there will be no boats for a couple of days should we decide to leave, but no one to my knowledge has been ordered to do so. By late afternoon it starts rolling in, a snowy, sleety wet mix. “Merry Christmas,” Joe Loeffler says as he passes me dressed in his foul weather gear. Water starts accumulating in front of the fire hall, but a core group of folks have mobilized in case it gets bad again, a well organized machine. Cliques and infighting has plagued the OBFD for the past couple of years, but in the aftermath of this storm it appears petty differences have finally been cast aside. As the storm comes one of our kittens is unaccounted for. His littermate disappears into the night in attempt to find him.

Thurs. Nov. 8 – We are relieved to find that kitten Goodie has found his brother Sapho by the next morning. The two brothers are safe sleeping side by side in a drawer lined with sweaters. However it appears last night’s nor’easter has flooded our house again. John and I are not all that bothered. The damage has already been done; it’s just a few steps backwards.

Fri. Nov. 9 – There is a bit of a cold snap and I am wearing three layers of sweaters. The smell of spoiled food is starting to permeate the air. With no refrigeration it can’t be helped. Dana Wallace comes to our house to ask John to help him catch an injured cat that has appeared on his back deck. “You were hit pretty bad?” he asks as I stand at the doorway with several waterlogged books in my hand. The cat is apprehended with a fishing-net and building contractor Pat Curran has agreed to take the animal off to the vet. Sadly the cat’s injuries were too extensive and it was euthanized upon arrival.

Sat. Nov. 10 – John has been given use of one of the municipal placards that day and can at last make a grocery store trip off-island. I am not allowed to go with him. I hardly know what to place on the list we prepare it has been so long. However I do request a package of panties for I have been washing the three pair I salvaged by hand repeatedly over two weeks and they are starting to get holes. I also requested some sanitary products because such supplies were lost to the flood some time ago. After so many years of marriage John struggled with these two these tasks. He has also bought impulse items that were not on the grocery list including raw meat which is impossible to keep right now, and chocolate… even I the great lover of chocolate will be the first to admit there is just too much of it on this island right now. So we begin to argue in the middle of the street. “These are the biggest maxi-pads I ever saw in my life! What’s the matter with you?” I shouted. “You sent to Target’s lingerie department,” John growled back. “Ladies were looking at me like I was some sort of pervert!” I saw his point, there are some things a wife should never ask her husband to do. But Marshall Law has left me marooned here. My options are limited.

Sun. Nov. 11 – Over the weekend we hear that attempts to electrify Kismet did not go so well. A transformer fire erupted, but was extinguished right away. The generator at the school goes out as well. The generator was designed to run for a few hours, even a couple days if necessary – but not prolonged use for weeks on end.

Mon. Nov. 12 – Veteran’s Day observed. I hang laundry out to dry on Betsy’s clothesline when a handsome man wearing a white hardhat appears in the yard strolling through the beach grass. I can’t help but smile. Folks from National Grid are starting to become present in Ocean Beach and this trend continues over the week. They ride big trucks, study maps with strange objects marked on them, and have come from all over the country: Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and I hear quite a few southern drawls among them. There is a rumor that they are camping in tents at the Sunken Forrest, but that makes no sense, I can’t picture FINS allowing such a thing. We later learn that they are actually camped at Sunken Meadow State Park. It gives us hope.

Wed. Nov. 14 – I wake up with a migraine headache. It was bound to happen, as I get them often, but feared the day I would get one while dealing with this. There is no ice pack available for my head and the medicine does not make me good for much. However I improve as the day goes on. It is also the day I learn my incarceration is over. Civilians are now allowed to travel off and on Fire Island again. John suggests a shopping trip the next day: himself, Betsy and me. But I find myself reluctant to go. I have things to do at the house and the daylight hours are the only time I get to spend with the cats – are these not the reasons why I did not evacuate in the first place? But there is something else… my new look consists of dingy trousers worn days on end and a bad Christmas sweater knit from boiled wool which I’ve started to favor for working in the cold, damp house. This fashion has become acceptable on Fire Island these days, but I don’t want to be seen like this on the mainland.

Thurs, Nov. 15 – Today is our big trip. I wear a more subdued sweater paired off with a souvenir t-shirt from Holland that Betsy has loaned me decorated with a pink tulip print. John has warned us that things would look different, but I am not prepared for what I see on the beach during the ride off. Damaged houses? I am accustomed to that by now, but the majestic dues by the lighthouse are now all but flattened. I’m hit with a malaise in the big department store. So many choices, where do I start? I am listless as I walk through the isles. Why bother to get shampoo? The bottle of “Silver Sheen” left by Betsy’s mother who died last year at the age of 94 has been doing the job well enough and brightening the gray at my temples to boot. We stop a Subway for sandwiches to bring back as a treat before we head back. In the strip mall parking lot by a dark-skinned man with bulging eyes accuses me of dinging his car with the door to our SUV. A chubby young woman with bleach-blonde hair sits in the passenger seat and nods and head affirmatively that indeed I did this. The routine is convincing, except this pair pulled the same scam on us in few months ago at this very same strip mall parking lot. The man must have recognized us too, because suddenly he is no longer demanding money, just an apology “to show a little respect.” This has been a hideous trip. It is dark as we head back to Fire Island. The route back home is tricky because all the landmarks we once used a guides are now gone. The terrain has been transformed into something unrecognizable and ugly.

Fri. Nov. 16 – This is a day for celebration. National Grid turns the power back on at Betsy’s. This is a miracle because National Grid has been in possession of four different lists with year-round residences, and her name was nowhere to be seen on any of them. Our address and several other people we know where also not present on these lists, which makes one wonder about the compilers.John however made a point of speaking to the National Grid folks out in the field, they got to know us and made sure we did not fall through the cracks. Betsy is elated and begins talking of a big Thanksgiving dinner. But John and I have trouble getting in the spirit of things, for there is still a long road ahead before we can go home again.

Fire Island Hurricane Sandy

By Shoshanna McCollum

Prelude – We got the robo-call at about 8:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. Mandatory evacuation. Oh geez! We had been through this just the summer before last with Hurricane Irene: Panic by the call itself, annoyance at the disruption, uncertainty if the decision you make is the right one. This is not my vacation home. There is no “mainland residence” to retreat to. The only options are to be a burden as someone’s unwanted guest if an invitation is extended, or resort to the Brentwood shelter where there is talk of gangs. Plus we have pets. Too many to round up and cage. I am irritated by the sanctimonious phone calls we get at times like this. They only serve as an unwanted interruption when we have preparations to make: Fresh water to bottle, flashlights and supplies to gather, items to raise off the floor, computer files to back-up. At the Castaway’s Halloween party that night folks celebrate like the end of the world is coming.

MON. Oct 29 – “There is water in the house,” my husband says as I blink awake. “So soon?” I ask. We got bay water in the house with Irene at the second storm surge, but this is the first surge and I know we are in trouble. Not so much water, we will bail it out like the last time I think, but it rises quickly. Cats panic, a bottle of solvent falls off the table and makes a plume as it joins the bay water. Still in my pajamas I crouch under tables and desks to disconnect cords from power outlets that will soon be submerged. Drops of rain make tiny little rings outside the backdoor window where our deck should be. All at once I realize I can’t keep up and the only option left is to pack a bag. My hand shakes as I gather a few pair of socks and underwear, medications, as well as my camera, laptop and external hard-drive unit. The look on the cats faces as we go is heart -wrenching. John takes my hand and we begin to walk in water that is well past our knees on Ocean Road, deeper still on Midway. We get to Betsy’s who lives on higher ground on Wilmot. She comes with towels not even questioning why we are here. I sit on her couch staring into the grayness of the day in a state of shock. I know that nothing will be the same and the second surge isn’t even here yet.

TUE. Oct 30: The sun is shining as we wake the next morning to learn of the damage overnight as we slept. The ocean has broken through at many points. Some cars are overturned or trees fell on them. Trees snapped, building like the lifeguard shack moved so it is leaning against Molle Young’s house on Ocean View Walk. The Ocean Beach Police station is unusable and they set up headquarters in Fire Island School as an Emergency Command Center. Some folks also displaced from their homes took refuge at Fire Island School. The Ocean Beach Police station is unusable and they set up headquarters at the school as an Emergency Command Center. John found a kayak floating loose the prior day that he appropriated for his animal feeding rounds. Flooding is still high, and there is broken concrete and submerged objects that make walking treacherous. We board takes me on kayak to see how bad flooding is in our home. Most of the cats are accounted for having taken to high shelves and other dry places, but almost everything we own is ruined: Clothes, sheets, furniture. On the transistor radio last night we hear a story of how a Suffolk County Police vehicle was lost to the storm when taking a young woman out of Fair Harbor who had become ill. “NOT true,” say an SCPD officer who has come by to check on his house. “Just a flat tire that they rode out on.” The water clears out of our house by that night with the next low tide; we can soon get to work.

WED. Oct. 31: It’s Halloween, but no trick-or-treaters. That morning John and I venture to school hearing the Internet signal might be working, but it isn’t. Police Officer named Bacon sees me and asks my business here, was I here through storm? I say I was, I’m John McCollum’s wife. He offers me food, drink and shelter at school if I’m in need and I thank him. There is some tension. One emergency worker describes “total anarchy” among chiefs and emergency coordinators. Another complains of those in middle authority over-stepping their roles. People are leaving messages on John’s cell phone tell us of news reports saying our drinking water is contaminated, but it isn’t. We later lean that it is in Suffolk County Water Authority communities. OB shut off the valve exchange before it ours independent water system was compromised. John brings Debbie Goldsmith’s turtles to Betsy’s. We start to wonder how will we get to vote.

THURS. Nov. 1 – I change our phone messages to “essential calls only” because our mailbox is being filled up with calls, many of which are frivolous. A house fire erupts on Surfview Walk, started by motor scooter battery over-heating and catching fire on nearby curtain. John befriends Steve, who works for Verizon. Steve rescued a stray cat on Ocean Breeze Walk known as Buddy from the surge a few days prior and is now trying to nurse him back to health. Steve also has diabetic dogs that he is keeping with him on as he stays on the beach trying to get the phone lines in good shape again. An evening “fire watch” is established by the OBFD. It quickly transforms into a watch to keep out boaters: Some are legitimate homeowners desperate assess their homes, but others are curiosity seekers, or even worse possible looters.

FRI Nov. 2 – Sofa in scooter reignites. Friends coming from the mainland bring us milk, ice, cat food and a box of corn muffins. John befriends Steve who works for Verizon. Steve saved Buddy, a stray cat that lives on Ocean Breeze from the storm surge and has been keeping him along with his dogs where he is staying. There may be Marshall Law here, but Ocean Beach is bustling with people: DEC State Emergency Management Office, U.S. Dept of Forestry. Chain saws can be heard buzzing all day and generators cranking all night.

SAT. Nov. 3 – Post Office now open a few hours a day. A dumpster is set up near ferry terminal. Talk is that looters have been caught leaving Fire Island with a boat full of copper pipe cut from houses. Cell phone signal is slightly better then it has been, but not by much. Our landline has dried out and can be used with a rotary phone. John manages a jerry-rigged system so I can get an Internet signal for about an hour by attaching our modem to a battery. God I missed Facebook!

Sun. Nov. 4 – Buddy the cat dies from his injuries. Steve, John, and Kasaih Scully bury him. For lunch John and I share a box of cold precooked breakfast sausage and crackers that are among a box of food salvaged from someone’s refrigerator. We eat it outdoors not far from the garbage can and share some of the sausage with our cat Bossy. This feels like the apocalypse. Supplies of food and clothing are delivered via helicopter drop courtesy of a community out in the Hamptons. With the clocks dropping back many make it an early night and an impromptu gathering is held between the Fire Department and other agencies. My husband fails to tell me about it, so I miss out.

Mon. Nov. 5 – The talk about town revolves around “placards.” Fire Dept. personnel who did not evacuate can only leave Fire Island for limited time windows of time is they reserve one of these placards and Ocean Beach is only allotted four of them.

TUE, Nov. 6 – Election Day. I head to OB Fire Hall at the agreed upon time. Due to curfew it will be a short voting window, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Over in Ocean Bay Park the Lindsay family is holding the Brookhaven polling place out of their house. At the fire hall I see more food then I have seen in days: fruit, pastry, breads, cereals and an array of snacks foods including leftover candy from the decidedly unsuccessful Halloween. I take a plate of greasy potatoes and eggs someone cooked up earlier and then I do the unspeakable: I hoard. I sneak oranges, pop-tarts, chips and Halloween candy in my bag when I think no one is looking. It makes no sense, but I do it never the less. There are no voting machines. Privacy booths are just some broken boxes. Daphne and I strive to keep some normality to the situation. This is hard because right outside the office where they put us a Fire Department meeting is being held. The men are loud and help themselves to the food most heartily. At one point one of them starts shouting, “vote Republican” over and over again. I storm out of the office and bellow: “This is still a polling place and there will be no electioneering here!” They quiet down very quickly after that. Emergency ballots are cast and stuffed in envelopes. By day’s end get a whopping 46 ballots. Bambootique has donated a couple of boxes of clothing. Clean shirts! As I pick through one of the ladies in EMS tells me there is more clothing at the school, part that was part of the airdrop. At the school I find myself a bathrobe that I can really use. Sure it’s fluffy, pink, and stops well above the knee but it will do a fine job filling in for my more conservative one that was ruined by the bay surge. John and I lie in bed going in and out of sleep tracking the Presidential Election into the night on the battery operated radio.

Help Fire Island weather the storm! If you have ever owned, rented or shared a home on Fire Island. If you grew up at the beach, day-tripped, or have fond memories of a weekend escape. The future of Fire Island needs your help.

On October 28, 2012, Hurricane Sandy swept across the Eastern seaboard deeply affecting Fire Island. The island was evacuated, but the first responders stayed and fought.

Since the storm hit, the Ocean Beach Volunteer Fire Department has been working around the clock, protecting our homes from further damage and restoring services to Ocean Beach, Corneille Estates, Seaview, Robin’s Rest and the Fire Island Summer Club.

As the winter months approach, it will not be easy. In addition to working their “real” jobs, the OBFD will be volunteering thousands of hours to fulfill their promise, and we owe them more than just our gratitude.

Be a part of the rebuilding of our great Island. Anything you can give is enough to help out. If you cant afford to donate at this time, you can still help out my spreading the word. Please circulate this page in hope that those who can help will.


Visit our secure donation page for the Ocean Beach Fire Department. 

Click the green DONATE box on this page and follow the instructions, providing your credit card information and address. The site is secure and very easy and you will be sent a tax deductible confirmation. will distribute the funds raised on a monthly basis via check to Fire Department of Ocean Beach Inc. 

1. Look for the Facebook and Twitter icons on our Causes campaign page to instantly share your activity with friends and increase awareness.
2. Use hashtag #obfdrelief on Twitter
3. If any of your Facebook or Twitter friends post about the OBFD Campaign, make sure you ‘like’ or ‘comment’. More ‘likes’ and ‘comments’, the more awareness.
4. You can post to Facebook more than once to keep this top of mind. When you share updates about Fire Island with friends, include the campaign link.

So buy a ‘virtual shell’ today and hopefully by next summer the streets of Ocean Beach, as well as the other communities will be lined with real painted shells and their little artists.

OBFD Fire Island
To view more photos and videos of Sandy’s aftermath on Fire Island, go to the Fire Island Facebook Page.

If you want to learn more about how your secure donation will reach the OBFD, visit:

Thank you for your contribution and helping the Ocean Beach Volunteer Fire Department safely continue to get our beloved island back up and running.

This campaign has been approved by the Ocean Beach Volunteer Fire Department.

OBFD Fire Island

Acceding to the National Parks service and Fire Island National Seashore (FINS) “Sandy” the devastating storm that hit Fire Island this past October caused two major breaches on Fire Island that may alter the island, as we know it.

“After Hurricane Sandy, two breaches were identified within Fire Island National Seashore boundaries. One is within Smith Point County Park, where the closure of that breach will be managed by Suffolk County. The National Park Service is evaluating a breach within the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness near Old Inlet.”

The images and video below show a very deep breach in the vicinity of Old Inlet, is in the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness. As you can see by the images huge waves from the ocean penetrating the Great South Bay causing a significant divide in the Fire Island landscape.  It is too early to determine if this is going to become a permanent divide, creating a new inlet to the Ocean or if it will naturally fill in with sand.

Originally reports stated that Fire Island had four total breaches. As it turns out two of these breaches are being considered non-critical “wash overs”.  The other critical breach is east in the Smith Point County Park area. This breach being managed and at last report will be permanently closed off by Suffolk County.

Video showing the breach caused by superstorm Sandy, that devastated Fire Island.
*Photo courtesy of Michael Busch

Fire Island, New York has seen its share of hurricanes and nor’easters many of these storms have done significant damage over the years and caused major beach erosion.  One thing is certain there will always been another storm and Fire Island will bounce back no matter how significant the damage.

The big storm of the 2012 season is what the media is calling a “Frankenstorm:, the combination of two major storm fronts.

“We’re not trying to hype it,” National Weather Service meteorologist Paul Kocin tells Bloomberg News. “What we’re seeing in some of our models is a storm at an intensity that we have not seen in this part of the country in the past century.”

As a life long Fire Islander I can tell you, these storms are always frightening. The wind will be so intense that the houses will sway, the waves in the ocean will pound so hard they will sound like thunder, and the flooding in town will be a few feet at minimum. Suffolk County called for a mandatory evacuation of Fire Island, and it always best to head for cover. does have one staff member on the Island, who opted to ride out the storm. The power on Fire Island has been shut down, and cell service is spotty but we will try to keep everyone updated as to the condition on the island as the storm passes through.

We have put together and will keep updated the photo album below.  Many of these pictures are courtesy of the brave members of law enforcement and rescue services at OBPD and OBFD.

Sandy Arrives. 

A few videos from Fire Island during Hurricane Sandy.
Steven Acierno a Verizon worker on Fire Island, posted a few amazing videos that capture the destruction. I asked him to describe what he saw, his response was:
“I can honestly say I have never seen anything like this. Huge waves coming ashore on the bay that were no less than 12 or 15 feet I swear to God this is going to be a very sad thing for a lot of people”

By Rachel Sunshine

Summer’s end became clear over the last few weeks. Every weekend a different restaurant closed their doors with anticipation of a peaceful off-season followed by an early spring. CJ’s also closed the last weekend in September, but with much more emotion then any other establishment on Fire Island has endured. On September 30th, 7pm the doors were closed with a definite sense of finality.

For over 30 years, CJ’s has often been the sole year-round bar and dining establishment on Fire Island, with very little change in atmosphere or clientele and been a treasured staple to the community of Ocean Beach. Known to many as “The Home of the Rocket Fuel,” an invention of frozen hard liquor concoction became synonymous with CJ’s and Fire Island in general. CJ’s was simple and that is why it was wonderful.  It was a menu on the wall, bottles of beer on the bar kind of place. Whether just to shoot the breeze after work, indulge in a lobster meal with the family, or throw some late night darts with friends, you could always count on CJ’s for the drinks flowing, people laughing, and the music rocking.

John “Giovanni” Palermo opened CJ’s in 1971, named after his son, Christopher John. CJ’s was one of two restaurants he operated, the other being Giovanni’s just down the block. By 1979 Giovanni’s closed, but CJ’s remained. In the late 90’s the aging Gio was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The bar’s namesake Christopher John now a grown man was not interested in taking over his father’s business, so Gio bequeathed his bar as well as the traditions and memories it held to his loyal, employee, caretaker, and friend, Joseph Theodore “J.T.” Prolo.

J.T., was in his mid 30’s became the new owner of CJ’s. Giovanni did not will CJ’s to J.T. without thought. This young man was the one Giovanni saw fit to take on not just a bar, but also the responsibilities of community and tradition that came with CJ’s, and that he did. The place kept its rustic beach charm for well over a decade. One change J.T. did see fitting was to enlarge CJ’s space. Soon after he took over the bar in 1997, the East wall of the pub was taken out expanding the bar to a full horseshoe and creating a second front entrance. No matter how much bigger CJ’s became it was constantly packed to the brim.

J.T. was that classic, generous, good guy with a witty sense of humor. He loved his friends and most importantly his family. Though J.T. had a busy and successful bar to run all year he made time to visit his sisters and nieces across the country, as well as his mother and late father.  J.T. was always to be caught with his younger cousins Phillip and Henry whom he was a role model too.  The abundant and infinite love for this one man was most prominently though grievingly shown on April 2, 2011 at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church for J.T. passed away on March 21st, shortly after undergoing treatments for pancreatic cancer and only in his early 50’s, leaving behind multitudes of mournful friends at CJ’s.

CJ’s remained open as always, kept up by his loyal friends and bartenders until J.T.’s mother, Lori Prolo set up shop in Ocean Beach, keeping the bar alive. Even in the shadow of loss and grief that lingered throughout Ocean Beach, the patrons of CJ’s carried on for Giovanni and J.T., and kept the good times going.

At summer’s end of 2011 Mother Lori planned to return to her winter residence and come back the following summer, which broached the question would CJ’s be open for the winter? Apart from two sets of brief winter months for minor renovations CJ’s had been open every winter since the 70’s. Jennifer Moritz, close life-long friend of J.T. and wife of Mathew Morano, owner of Mathew’s Seafood House, made the decision to stay in Ocean Beach for the winter and run the show. It proved a successful winter and with the following summer of 2012 being momentous for CJ’s and the community. Lori upheld her son’s legacy for two years, but with summer’s end made the decision to close the doors on her son’s behalf. The time for friends, family, and CJ’s to move on had come.

The space that was CJ’s has been leased to Rob Foggo and Ed Werblow, the bar will reopen again in the spring of 2013. Foggo has been a bartender of Bocce Beach for 23 years and Werblow a resident of Ocean Beach for over 20 years who met his wife over Rocket Fuels at CJ’s 12 years ago. These two friends and business partners appreciate the institution that CJ’s was and still can be. Both gentlemen have no other intentions other than to brighten the place up and keep that relaxed feeling it always had. This bar will forever be the “home of the Rocket Fuel” in Ocean Beach.

Note: Castaway Bar and Grill in Ocean Beach will be open for the 1012 / 2013 off-season. Hope to see you there!

Fire Island App
Copyright 2011 Market Ready LLC
Updated: Apr 04, 2011
Current Version: 1.6
Support Email Address

The Fire Island App is a must for anyone visiting or living on Fire Island, New York. This application provides updated ferry schedules, train schedules, and real-time travel alerts for all 15 Fire Island communities. It also provides users with photos, videos, events, maps, directions and vital Information that make the visit to Fire Island as easy as can be. This application is part of, the leading Fire Island website and top New York travel destination site since 1996. Rest assured this app is safe, accurate, and best of all you are helping save the environment by reducing waste caused by paper schedules.

Fire Island Ferry Destinations:
Atlantique, Cherry Grove, Davis Park, Dunewood, Fair Harbor, Fire Island Pines, Kismet, Ocean Bay Park, Ocean Beach, Sailor’s Haven, Saltaire, Seaview, Sunken Forest, Watch Hill, and Water Island.

This Fire Island App is not affiliated with or funded by: Sayville Ferry Service, Fire Island Ferries Inc, or Davis Park Ferry Company. The Fire Island App was created by a 3rd generation Fire Islander who aspires to make Fire Island travel easier and promote environmental change by reducing waste caused by paper schedules.

Go green with the New Fire Island Ferry Schedule directly on your iPhone! That’s right no more waste, or worries caused by lost or outdated paper schedules. Take the Fire Island Ferries with you in real-time. With a simple touch, see full schedules, alerts and much more.

Want a sneak peek?


What user are saying
Over 5,000 people are using our app now!  Here are just a few comments.

Great App!! Nice local maps. Good Job … never miss the boat again!! Love the Logo too!!! Gave it 5 stars!!
Ellen McCarry Hopps

This is great. Having the schedule on my phone will be so helpful!
Courtney Perry

It’s awesome to see there is finally an app for the schedules!! I can’t wait to put it to use so I don’t have to worry about where I put the damn pink booklet! Lol your awesome for doing it thank you!!
Jade Butterflyz

This is cool, and nice of you to do!
Kate Flanagan Barefoot

Nice idea to launch the app on Earth Day,true get rid of the paper schedules.
Ralph Cefalo

Good Job!!! There are ferry schedules for each town, ferry phone numbers for updates & nice local maps for each community! Thanks for a nice little app! Love the logo … It’s perfect. Good first effort!!!