On a recent snowy night, for instance, 150 residents joined a pub crawl fund-raiser for the local beach association, paying $25 each to wander from restaurant to bar along Sea Cliff Avenue, the main shopping and dining street.
Similarly, in June, 120 families will set out cast-off treasures in a community garage sale, their homes marked on a map drawn up by the civic association. Then, at a local park on the last day of school, the association hosts an ice cream social, scooping out 200 free sundaes. And come October, in a ritual that dates back 30 years, newcomers will be invited to a party at a resident’s home to be introduced to the mayor, the trustees and the librarians.
“It’s the personal touch,” said Ann DiPietro, head of the Sea Cliff Civic Association. “We try to make everyone feel part of the village immediately.”
Though increasingly upscale of late, Sea Cliff retains its aura as a bohemian outpost in the midst of cookie-cutter suburbia — an artists’ haven of sorts.
Rose Gunter, who sings on Wednesday nights at Roots, a SoHo-esque restaurant on Sea Cliff Avenue with menu offerings like bacon-wrapped meatloaf, says she still has the “hippie mentality” that propelled her to Sea Cliff from the more staid Garden City three decades ago. “It was handyman specials and people with long hair,” recalled Ms. Gunter, 60. “It’s beautifully insidious and you can’t leave. Even if you do, it draws you back.”
Terry Sciubba, broker-owner of Sherlock Homes Realty and a 30-year resident, explained it this way: “It’s not like a typical Nassau County bedroom community. It’s still funky. If they don’t want the funk, they go to Glen Head.”
WHAT YOU’LL FIND
Sea Cliff, in the Town of Oyster Bay, hugs the shoreline south of Glen Cove and north of Glenwood Landing. It is bounded to the east by Glen Cove Avenue and the unincorporated areas of Glen Head.
Among its roughly 2,000 residences, the village has cottages, bungalows and smaller Victorians with granny porches packed together along narrow streets at its heart, and larger Gothic and Victorian homes built into hillsides with commanding water views.
“Because they value these properties, people have gone to great lengths to restore them,” said Wayne P. McCann, broker-owner of Harmonious Homes. “You won’t find as much vinyl as in other communities.”
Fifty-four buildings have local landmark status, and 29 of those are also on state and national registries, including Village Hall and the English Tudor-style fire department.
Strict architectural-review and zoning requirements are viewed as a safeguard of the old-time ambience. “We are pretty controlling,” said Bruce Kennedy, the mayor. “We are trying to enjoy the same quality of life we have been enjoying for 125 years.”
Recent improvements include a new boardwalk connecting the business district and the waterfront — long overdue, in some residents’ view, as the last one was destroyed in the hurricane of 1938. Also, new streetlights and a village square clock have been added on Sea Cliff Avenue. And public and private foundation money was recently allocated for a $175,000 covered outdoor arts pavilion at the beach for live performances, Mr. Kennedy said.
WHAT YOU’LL PAY