10 things the New Year brings to LI
Big things are coming to Long Island this year -- from the opening of a $15 million ice-rink complex in Eisenhower Park to a brand new festival that will mark the debut of dragon boat races on Suffolk's North Shore.
Here are 10 things to look forward to in 2014.
1. Twin rinks at Eisenhower Park, East Meadow
The $15 million facility for hockey players and ice skaters is expected to open in March, right after the Winter Olympics. Featuring two National Hockey League regulation-sized rinks and an outdoor recreational hockey rink for skating lessons, it will be home to the Long Island Gulls Amateur Hockey Association and the New York Junior Bobcats.
2. Port Jefferson Dragon Boat Festival
Suffolk County's first-ever dragon boat race is in the works to debut Sept. 20 in the bustling harbor community. More than a dozen teams are expected to paddle the colorful crafts -- each decorated with a dragon's head on the bow and tail on the stern -- on a 200-meter course just off Centennial Park. The accompanying festival will feature Asian performing arts, music and food.
3. An expanded Winterfest
In its seventh year, the all-jazz festival in North Fork wine country has been renamed Live on the Vine and revamped to add blues, soul and country bands. (Yes, jazz still will be on tap.) It's spread out over six weekends at locations across the East End, including wineries, restaurants, hotels and the Suffolk Theatre in Riverhead. (Feb. 8-March 16)
4. The Long Island Museum's 75th Anniversary, Stony Brook
After a two-month winter break, the museum reopens March 1 and celebrates its diamond anniversary with a number of flashy new exhibits. Highlights include an exhibition of a dozen Jackson Pollock prints on loan from Pollock Krasner House & Study Center in Springs. Another exhibition spotlights 75 items from the collection, including a rarely seen silk embroidered wedding dress from 1785, an 1890s tandem cart carriage and a 1903 Tiffany glass floor lamp.
5. The new Museum of American Armor, Old Bethpage
This new 25,000-square-foot museum opens at Old Bethpage Village Restoration on May 8, just in time for the 69th anniversary of V.E. (Victory in Europe) Day in 1945. The collection includes more than 30 operational World War II vehicles, including Sherman and Stuart tanks, artillery and armored reconnaissance cars. Surrounded by the restoration's farmhouses and country roads, re-enactors can create an armored column reminiscent of American forces in World War II in Normandy, France.
6. Return of the Blue Angels, Jones Beach
They're back! After being grounded last year because of federal budget cuts, The Blue Angels U.S. Navy flight demonstration squadron returns to the lineup at the annual Memorial Day weekend air show at Jones Beach. They'll be helping to kick off the summer of '14 by soaring through the sky May 24-25.
7. More Fire Island Lighthouse tours
More tours, including popular ones at sunrise and sunset and behind-the-scenes tours, are being added this year. And in the Fresnel lens building located next to the lighthouse, a long-awaited exhibition is expected to be completed: an illustrated timeline tracing the lighthouse site's history to 1826.
8. Oyster Bay Railroad Museum, Oyster Bay
This multiyear project is finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. The latest addition to its attractions, a 1903 turntable once used to move locomotives around in the train yard, is expected to be powered up sometime in 2014. Visitors will be able to stand on the tracks as they revolve.
9. Big gigs at the Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale
Don't sing the swan song for the Nassau Coliseum just yet. While Nassau County has tapped developer Bruce Ratner's $229 million plan to revamp the entire Nassau Hub area, there's still a couple of mega concerts booked for 2014: rapper Jay-Z brings his Magna Carta tour on Jan. 19, Miley Cyrus rolls in April 24.
10. New eats
Watch for the January opening of Chow Down, an ambitious new diner in Bethpage from the Singh Hospitality Group. Chef-restaurateur and consultant Tom Schaudel describes it as "a diner on steroids" serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. It will have craft beers, local wines and a menu that skews locavore; moderate prices, too.
The first Long Island branch of Bahama Breeze, an Orlando-based chain of tropical-theme restaurants, is slated to debut soon at the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove. Expect such fare as coconut shrimp, pulled pork sliders, Key West shrimp and grits and Key lime pie.
Joan Reminick contributed to this story.