As Long Island cover band High Tide played “Sweet Caroline,” the parking lot of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Center Moriches transformed into a dance floor. In the back row of the lot packed with over 60 cars, Cindy Youngs danced on the bed of her pickup truck.
“We can finally have a weekend out,” Youngs, 48, of Eastport, said.
COVID-19 hampered many summer activities, but it did not stop the audience of more than 100 from enjoying High Tide’s renditions of ‘60s ‘70s and ‘80s hits. The band’s performance capped off the Chamber of Commerce of the Moriches’ summer series of free movies and concerts.
The chamber presented five films, including “Field of Dreams” and “Elf,” and a performance by Chain Reaction, another cover band, in the church parking lot.
Jackie Osborne, the group’s singer, came out to support High Tide and the community with her husband and keyboard player, Jimmy Osborne, who owns a music school in Center Moriches. “I think the chamber has done a terrific job trying to bring people together with uplifting activities,” Osborne, 56, who also lives in Center Moriches, said.
Chamber president Julie Pratt said only 20 cars were seen at the first film, but more arrived as the weeks passed.
“We had more people than I thought we would,” said Pratt, 64, gazing at High Tide’s audience. While some people sat in their cars, most sat in portable chairs in groups of less than 10 people. “It’s still giving people that safety factor.”
Lindsey Hunter’s family distanced themselves from other groups, but formed a large cluster in the middle of the lot.
“I feel safe as long as we are outside,” said Hunter, 41, of East Moriches, surrounded by nearly 30 members of her family. While she and most of her clan did not sport facemasks, her mother and father — both 73 — did.
High Tide secured the gig through drummer and vocalist Paul Quinn, who is a chamber member. While the band members have been playing together for just over a year, they only performed twice in recent months due to pandemic.
“It’s like a bunch of wild animals getting out of a cage,” said singer and guitarist Ray Deger, 57, of Ronkonkoma. Throughout the evening, he and his bandmates thanked the chamber and the church, and asked everyone in the audience to support their local businesses.
“We’re just glad we could give back to the community.”