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Packed July 4th Parties On Fire Island Draw Ire Over Lack Of Social Distancing, Masks: 'Dumb' And 'Unacceptable'

FIRE ISLAND, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - July 4th revelers on Fire Island got visits from police and social media shaming after videos surfaced of large parties with no social distancing.

One attendee even boasted he had COVID-19 symptoms leading up to the weekend, but went anyway.

That prompted a warning from officials.

A holiday weekend turned the Fire Island Pines, a famous gay enclave, into a viral hashtag for the wrong reasons. Packed parties, masses of beach revelers engaged in what some describe as an alarming lack of social distancing, or masks.


"It made me feel terrible," one person told CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff.

"Holiday mentality. Very shortsighted," said another.

"It's very alarming. People need to be careful and think. It was disgusting," one person said.

"Very selfish and very inconsiderate," said another.

"Someone has to get sick from all of this, you know?"

One visitor publicly chronicled his lead up to the weekend, while battling what he thought was coronavirus and waiting for test results.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

After public shaming, he later offered up a timeline and apology.

"I am sorry for the misinterpretation of what I portrayed on my social media," he said.

But now, the Pines' annual July 4th tradition, playfully dubbed "The Invasion," has many there fearful.

Ferry operator Ken Stein is concerned for the safety of his crew.

"It's a shame what happened this weekend after everyone has been so good," he said.

Suffolk police responded, reminding beachgoers to wear masks, but issued no citations. The head of the Pines Homeowners Association is asking for better enforcement.

"It was shocking. I and my board were very distressed to see that after all we have done to ensure the safety and well being of the community," said Jay Pagano.

Others told Gusoff irresponsible crowds were the exception.

"Overall, everybody was wearing masks and protecting themselves and everybody else," said visitor Raheen Harte.

Business owners who have been working for months to safely reopen don't want to be confused with the handful of parties in private homes, some of them for profit.

"I'm extremely angry that my staff, myself and the responsible customers of the Fire Island Pines have been put at risk because of some out of towners, not locals, who chose to come over here and throw parties," said P.J. McAteer of Fire Island Pines Commerical Properties.

There were harsh words Monday from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

"You know, I don't know how else to say it. Actions have consequences," he said.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone vowed personal fines and a greater police presence.

"What we saw out there in these isolated incidents was not common sense. It was dumb and it was unacceptable," he said.

Oldre residents told Gusoff irresponsible young visitors don't know their history, when another virus - HIV - destroyed this community.


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