Melina Angelson, who spoke before the Greenport village board Monday night to request the new locale — in past years, the event has been held at Jean Cochran Park in Southold — said the goal is to "reenergize" Relay for Life.
One committee member had seen a similar Relay for Life event staged in Florida at a waterfront location and thought it would be "fun" to try a new spot, Angelson said.
In addition to moving to Mitchell Park, the hours of the event would be changed, from an overnight gathering to one with hours that would begin at noon on Saturday, May 31 and end at midnight.
The event would still be 12 hours and feature Relay for Life's three signature components, including a meal for survivors and a survivor lap. At nightfall, participants would walk at dusk in the candelight, remembering the lost, and lighting luminaries with the names of loved ones who have died from, or are battling, cancer. The event would end, as it does traditionally, with a "fight back" portion aimed at education.
The Southold Relay for Life team has worked fiercely over past years to raise funds; the coming event will put the team over the $1 million dollar mark in monies raised, Angelson said.
The team also works hand in hand with the American Cancer Society to raise awareness in schools, teaching kids about the critical importance of sunscreen, early detection, healthy choices and not smoking. Kids and teachers all wear purple, Angelson said.
"By moving the event to Greenport, right in the middle of the village, the weekend after Memorial Day, hopefully we'll get the whole town to participate," she said.
Angelson thanked Southold Town officials for their support and endless help over the years; the reason for changing locales is just to re-energize the event and bolster participation, drawing new participants.
The village board had a number of questions about parking but Angelson said she felt they were supportive of the concept. "They really did seem receptive," she said.
Angelson said the event would feature all-day music, a DJ and games for the kids.
For Angelson, and the scores of teams who participate every year, Relay for Life is deeply personal.
"My mom suffered from cancer, and my sister had childhood cancer," she said. "That's the really sad thing, that six degrees of separation. Everyone has been touched by cancer, directly and personally. It's everywhere."
On a positive note, Angelson said for the last four years, the number of individuals dying for cancer has decreased. "There are cancers that are now preventable with early detection," she said, including colon and prostate cancers — with new chemo regimes available to minimize side effects.
The ACS also uses funding from the Relay for Life events to help with programs that provide rides to those going for treatment, wigs for those who are losing their hair, and camps for kids with cancer.
The board is expected to make a decision about holding the event at Mitchell Park soon.