Celebrating the Bridgehampton Community

Willie Jenkins loves his hometown so much that he organized Bridgehampton Day for Saturday as a way to bring the community together and show off Bridgehampton pride. Durell Godfrey

Update: Due to rain, Bridgehampton Day has been postponed until Sunday, Aug. 13, from 1 to 6 p.m.

"I just love Bridgehampton." This is a phrase no one who knows Willie Jenkins would be surprised to hear him say.

The 34-year-old decided to put his pride on full display and organized Bridgehampton Day, which is set for Saturday at the Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreational Center.

Mr. Jenkins, who grew up on Narrow Lane and lives in Riverhead now, said he has been saddened to see his once close-knit community start to fade. People have been priced out of the real estate market in Bridgehampton and have moved either farther west on Long Island or down south, he said.

"The inspiration really just is as far as seeing how the community is dissipating, disappearing," he said. "People becoming estranged."

Mr. Jenkins said he is one of those people. "There was no way I could afford to live out there unless it was affordable housing. When I moved away I wasn't ready to buy a house. There is no way for a young adult to live out there unless you're going to live in your mom's house."

He misses the days when "everyone was family," when his friends' parents looked out for him, even sitting him down when he needed a good talking to. Residents cared about one another.
He chose the child care center because it was, literally, the center of the community for him and for many others who grew up in Bridgehampton.

"I don't feel home unless I go past Carvel," he said with a laugh. "Once you pass the Commons, a sense of calm comes over you."

Starting at 11 a.m., the day will be a community gathering of sorts, first with a brief program on the history of the hamlet and then games, a barbeque, music, and photo opportunities. There will be a basketball game, too — after all, Bridgehampton High produced all those Killer Bee championship teams. Raffles are in store, as are chances to buy T-shirts showing the names of streets residents might have grown up on and hats displaying "Bridgehampton." The event will continue until at least 4 p.m.

Mr. Jenkins promises it will be a day for all generations. The rain date is Sunday.