It was refreshing to read this morning in the Cape Cod Times about the first of hopefully many changes that are long overdue for the annual Figawi race from Hyannis to Nantucket.
However, much more needs to happen this year and in future years to curb the disrespect shown to our island of Nantucket by the Figawi invasion every Memorial Day. If you are among those who are fed up with Figawi as it currently operates, please attend the Selectmen meeting on Wednesday, May 5 at 6 p.m. and voice your opinion. An item on the agenda will address the open container bylaw. This is your opportunity to be heard. If you need more information, please contact me at email@example.com.
During the meeting I will be presenting excerpts from the following e-mail I sent this week to Town officials to voice my opinion:
"I'm one of a number of Nantucketers who are quite fed up with the way that the folks "from America" invade the island for Figawi weekend for what is unresponsible drinking and public drunkenness. It's disgusting the way this out-of-town contingent takes over downtown with little regard for the standards our community has established, all under the guise of a sailing race that raises money for a few charities on island (and a whole lot of off-island charities on the Cape).
Last year was the first year I witnessed Figawi up close during the three and a half years we've lived here and the years before when we were visiting as seasonal residents. On Memorial Day Weekend I worked down at an art gallery on Old South Wharf both Saturday and Sunday. Every other weekend of the summer through Columbus Day we had a steady stream of well-mannered tourists, families, locals and seasonal residents visiting the galleries and shops along the wharf.
Except for Figawi weekend. It was obvious that the word is out among the well-mannered, respectable visitors to the island that Figawi weekend is the time to stay away from Nantucket.
Though the restaurants were doing great business down in that area, most of the rest of the retailers elected to close early as the crowds on the boats and on land were getting completely out of control. Grossly drunk people aren't the customers that do business with the galleries and stores. By sundown on Saturday night, rather than staying open as we normally would have done on a summer weekend, we closed early, as did many of our fellow retailers, fearing that we'd get hordes of drunks inside the doors doing damage to expensive goods offered for sale. Frankly, I was scared to be there by myself minding the store. It was not a pretty sight.
On Sunday morning I walked up to open the doors at 10 a.m. and was greeted by a pile of vomit at our front doorstep. There were beer cans overflowing in the garbage cans and sitting all around where they were just left by the revelers from the night before.
I'm proud of our community and resent the disrespectful attitude that is displayed by many of the Figawi participants. It's unfortunate that the sins of some taint the entire reputation of the event but that is the way it is. I have friends and colleagues here on island who defend Figawi, saying that we just need to "put up with it" for the sake of badly needed business brought by this group. They argue that Figawi means well and is donating to our nonprofits, including the local police nonprofit. They feel we should just look the other way and subject ourselves, our children and our community to the debauchery.
One wonders if it would be the same if the shoe was on the other foot and the race was reversed, with Hyannis as the party central point for the racers rather than Nantucket. Would the community of Hyannis stand for what we stand for here on Nantucket? How many other types of island visitors--families, etc.--are we not attracting on Memorial Day weekend because of the reputation we have earned because of Figawi and the public drunkenness that is permitted?
I believe, as do others in the growing grassroots movement against Figawi, that the island is not getting a fair shake. We hope that the NPD and the Town are poised to take a more stringent position in enforcing laws against public drunkenness and open containers during Figawi weekend rather than loosening the restrictions.
The Figawi organizers are quick to state that Figawi goers are much better behaved as a group than they used to be. That's hard for me and others to believe. There seems to be a great deal of denial going on amongst the leaders, who are primarily from Hyannis and the Cape rather than from Nantucket, the place that bears the major brunt of this debacle.
As you can tell, I'm pretty passionate about this and will continue to be until some change comes about in regards to Figawi on Nantucket. I will be at the Selectmen's meeting on Wednesday night, along with others who share my concerns, to speak out. I think the time has come for Nantucket to begin pushing back and demanding that the Figawi organizers take a more responsible role in controlling their event.
Just as the time has come for them to drop their outdated, politically incorrect rules for their Sunday morning joke contests (with their publicly posted rules saying "no race, creed, sex or color is safe from attack" outside of their brunch tent), the public drunkenness that Figawi promotes is no longer acceptable. We owe it to our kids and our community to expect more."