Trip around island takes detour

Becomes feast at BIMI
Fri, 09/29/2017 - 9:15am
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Hurricane Jose kept the boats from running and the planes from flying at different times last week, but it didn’t appear to dampen the Block Island spirit.

While the 14th annual trip around Block Island was cancelled due to adverse sea conditions caused by the hurricane, with the help of some benefactors, the event was converted into a feast at the Block Island Maritime Institute. So although there was no sightseeing enjoyment aboard the Block Island Express, a crowd descended on BIMI where they indulged — free of charge courtesy of the Wronowski family — in an open bar, and everything from lobster salad, jumbo shrimp and bacon wrapped scallops to kabobs and crab cakes.

The Wronowski family, who hosts the annual trip around the Island, owns the New London-based Block Island Express ferry and Dead Eye Dick’s restaurant on Block Island. Jessica Wronowski, who managed the event with help from her Dead Eye Dick’s staff, said, “It’s a little disappointing not to go around the island this year.” She noted that the feast at BIMI was a great way to thank the public for a “fantastic season,” even if it meant that it was the first time that her mother, Susan, and father, John, couldn’t attend.

Wronowski told The Block Island Times that she received a phone call from her father at about 11 a.m. on Thursday. He suggested that they consider making alternative plans for the day.

Deciding to turn the event into a feast, Jessica reached out to the Block Island community for assistance. “In the heart of the storm the island came together,” she said.

Wronowski rattled off a list of people who provided support, supplies and much-needed help for the endeavor. First things first, however: since Dead Eye Dick’s was closed for the season she needed a venue to host the event.

Jessica said she was “really lucky” that Susan Weissman granted her permission to utilize the BIMI building. Fortunately, due to the weather, a lecture that had been scheduled at BIMI for that evening was cancelled.

“Kimberly (Ward) lent us the linens” used for the tables, she said, referencing the owner of Kimberly’s restaurant on Ocean Avenue. “My whole crew from Dead Eye Dick’s” staffed the event. “Bill Bendokas helped freight the t-shirts over,” she said. Bendokas owns New England Airlines that operates between Block Island and Westerly.

Wronowski said the annual trip around the island can attract as many as 500 people, with an average attendance of about 400 each year. Despite that, she was “worried that only 75 people would show up,” but remarked that the “sun was out” and shining. About 240 people showed up to the event.

In the end, the efforts of the Wronowski family and the community resulted in the “trip around the Block detour” feast at BIMI from 5 to 7 p.m., and a line out the door and down the proverbial block. Along with her staff, Jessica greeted the crowd as they entered the building, and kept the buffet table stocked with food. Members of the public were given tie-dye t-shirts commemorating the event.