By Janee Law
Nearly 70 years ago, Huntington stood in awe when a 63-foot finback whale washed up on the shores near Halesite Park on Oct. 21, 1946.
To commemorate the 70th anniversary of that day, local historians plan to place a commemorative plaque near the area. In order to help fund that plaque, a lecture at the Whaling Museum & Education Center in Cold Spring Harbor has been set for Oct. 6 to serve as a fundraiser.
“In a crazy way, it brought the town together, even though it’s essentially a tragedy for the whale,” Brian Hansen, curator of the Huntington High School Heritage Museum, said. “It’s part of Huntington history and that’s something that we want to always establish and maintain is the history of Huntington.”
When the whale washed up in Huntington Harbor, the incident caused chaos on Harbor Road, as members of the community shuffled to the scene to witness the massive creature.
Many students from Huntington skipped school to see the whale, causing the district to close school for the day.
Along with Hansen, Huntington Town Historian Robert Hughes and Nomi Dayan, executive director of Whaling Museum, are organizing the fundraiser. The lecture is planned to include an overview of the day the whale washed ashore.
Hansen said that the goal for the event is to raise $650 towards the plaque, which will include a story and picture of the whale.
Later in October, the historians hope to host a ceremony where the plaque will be unveiled nearby where the whale washed ashore.
Since the location can be hard to see, Hansen said they’re hoping to place the plaque some 1,000 feet away on Anchorage Lane, so that it is more visible to the public.
This hasn’t been the only whale that has washed up in town. In October 2015, a 28-foot female humpback whale carcass was found off Lloyd Harbor, with signs of blunt force trauma.
With that, Hansen said that he’s hoping the plaque will educate and create awareness about marine life, adding that it’s a good way to tie in schools and the community.
The fundraising event at the whaling museum (301 Main St., Cold Spring Harbor) is set for 7-8 p.m. on Oct. 6. For more information or to make a donation, call 631-367-3418.