By Frank Chrupcala
From Weekapaug to Watch Hill, Misquamicut is a seven-mile stretch of beach-lover’s heaven. Late last October, it was hell on Earth.
“It was the most awful sight I had seen at this beach,” Caswell Cooke Jr., President of the Misquamicut Business Association said. “Everything was flattened.”
Hurricane Sandy, the second-costliest in United States history, hit Rhode Island’s coastline hard with high winds and a brutal storm surge. No local area felt the super storm’s effects greater than South County. Misquamicut in particular, was devastated.
“Buildings were displaced and destroyed and deep sand covered the streets,” Cooke Jr. said. “It was unrecognizable, but I’m amazed by the progress. Recovering from the millions of dollars of damage is an ongoing process but thanks to their hard work, help from the government and the commitment of thousands of volunteers almost every business will be back this summer.”
“The best place to vacation this summer is in your own backyard,” Cooke Jr. said. “Misquamicut is a hidden gem for many Rhode Islanders.”
This month, Misquamicut will host its third annual SpringFest. The weekend-long event kicks off on Friday, May 10, from 5-11 p.m. A world-class fireworks display will light the sky at 8 p.m. SpringFest continues on Saturday, May 11 from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. and Sunday, May 12 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Throughout SpringFest, Rockwell Amusements spectacular carnival, live music and entertainment, a petting zoo, classic cars, beer, blues, barbeque and other foods will thrill thousands of guests. Music legends John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band will perform on Friday night and Coco Montoya will perform on Saturday night.
SpringFest is one of Misquamicut’s biggest events, but it marks just the beginning of a summer-long return to prominence for the region, which will host nightly and weekly events throughout the season.
One of the hardest hit buildings in Misquamicut was the iconic business, The Andrea, which has resiliently weathered dozens of storms over the years. The Andrea is rebuilding in phases, reopening as a restaurant this summer and returning as a hotel, as well, in 2014.
“We are working around the clock to return as a full-service restaurant and entertainment venue this summer,” said Michelle Pinto, owner of The Andrea. “Though rebuilding the hotel is in the back of our minds, we cannot wait to reopen this summer in some form. Past guests call every day asking about our progress and we’re excited to say that we will be back.
The Andrea’s success story will not be alone in Misquamicut and throughout South County. Businesses like Seafood Haven, Purple Ape, Paddy’s Beach and Beachcomber Real Estate Agency are ready for the summer and the Coast Guard House in Narragansett, facing a similar rebuild to The Andrea, will return as well.
“The state of Rhode Island has done an extraordinary job,” Myrna George, president of the South County Tourism Council said. “Everyone I know has been in motion, supportive and cohesive. All oars have been in the water, pulling together to accomplish a lot in a short time. South County is open for business.”
For more information on the 2013 Misquamicut SpringFest, visit www.MisquamicutFestival.org. For more on the Misquamicut Business Association, visit www.Misquamicut.org, and for more on the South County Tourism Council, visit www.SouthCountyRI.com.