Highlights from our 375th Anniversary Celebration!
Against the backdrop of a picture perfect autumn day with blue skies and temperatures in the low 70’s, well over a 1,000 residents along with local officials, community leaders and dignitaries from around the country gathered on Saturday, September 29 to celebrate the Village of Hempstead’s 375th Anniversary and a street renaming dedication in honor of Long Island’s first African-American Mayor James A. Garner.
The day’s festivities began at 11:00 a.m. when the Nassau County Police Department’s mounted unit and the James A. Garner All Stars Pipe Band escorted a motorcade containing Garner, members of his family, Mayor Don Ryan and other VIP’s past Village Hall to the stage adjacent to Washington Street where the official street renaming ceremony was held.
Following the Presentation of Colors by the Hempstead Police Department’s Ceremonial Unit, recital of the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Garner’s grandson Brandon, playing of the National Anthem by the All Stars Pipe Band and the Black National Anthem performed by the Hempstead High School Chorale, Mistress of Ceremonies, Yolanda Garner-Hucherson, daughter of the Honorable James Garner, orchestrated the impressive tribute that preceded the official unveiling of the new street name that officially changed Nichols Court to “James A. Garner Way.”
Throughout the ceremony, Mayor Garner was praised by clergy members, Village officials and various public officials and other guests who recognized his many accomplishments and contributions made over his 30-plus years of public service that included serving as Village Trustee from 1984-1989, Mayor from 1989-2005, Deputy Comptroller of Nassau County from 2011-2014 and Chief Deputy Comptroller from 2014-2017.
Among those offering accolades to Mayor Garner were former NY Governor David Paterson, Deputy Speaker Earlene Hooper, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, New York City Public Advocate and State Attorney General candidate Letitia James and former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb. The ceremony also included musical selections by recording artist Robin S. and Catherine Miller, the reading of Mayor Garner’s bio by his son Darrell, an inspiring keynote address by Rev. Malcolm Byrd, pastor of the Jackson Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church, touching remarks by Mayor Garner and the official street sign unveiling led by Garner’s granddaughter Ashanti Williams.
Throughout the day and in addition to the street renaming ceremony, 375th Anniversary attendees enjoyed a variety of amazing fun and exciting activities for the entire family that took place in the adjacent Denton Green Park, including live music, Kids activity zone, as well as the "Flavors of Hempstead" a mouthwatering array of cultural dishes provided by a diverse selection of local restaurants.
Village Hall was also transformed into a museum quality exhibit on past mayors, presidents and founders of Hempstead Village. Hundreds of visitors there were able to gather a great perspective of Hempstead’s long history through pictures, words and other memorabilia along with commentary and Q&A from Village Historian Reine Bethany.
All in all it was a fabulous day and the large turnout was a great display of community spirit that captured the true essence of what makes Hempstead Village the true hub of Nassau County.