What started as a little contest among friends at the former Out Restaurant (now Surf’s Out) in Kismet in the early 1990s eventually turned into a full-blown beach party.

That only began to happen after the Out’s owner, Warren Lem, hooked up with the West Islip Breast Cancer Coalition in 1994.

“We invited them over, closed the restaurant and started adding bands, and more food, raffle tickets, tennis,” recalled Lem. “It really turned into a full festival.”

The festival was moved to the mainland last year, to Nicky’s on the Bay. But this Tuesday marked the first time the Clam Shucking Contest saw such great weather in Bay Shore.

And the Coalition’s president, Margaret Campise, was all smiles.

“Thank God it’s a gorgeous day and everything is working out well,” she said. “Last year we had torrential rain.”

Campise noted the namesake shucking contest, won this year by Peter Ambrose, is just one portion of the day-long event.

The party also features music, dancing, plenty of seafood, beer and wine, a kids’ corn-shucking contest, and big raffle prizes that amounted to $4,000. That money was donated by Atlantic Hyundai of West Islip and awarded as three prizes: $2,500, $1,000 and $500.

Also on hand Tuesday — as she is every year, rain or shine — was Lem’s mother, Rose, 95.

“We used to have a restaurant in Hempstead, and we used to run fundraisers there all the time; that was a long time ago, in the 1940s,” she said. “And I’m still doing it.”

The money raised at the Clam Shucking Contest, typically around $60,000, Campise said, all goes to help Long Island women undergoing breast cancer treatment.

That’s possible through the nonprofit group’s Lend a Helping Hand program.

“We supply all free services for women going through breast cancer, like if they need whigs, house cleaning, medical transportation, medical co-pays, food,” Campise said. “Whatever they need to make things a little bit easier while going through this trying time in their lives.”

Click the boxes marked 2, 3 and 4 to scroll through all 20 photos.

All photos by Michael White, except the first one, which was shot by Joseph Conway.


This year’s Clam Shucking Contest Winner, Peter Ambrose. (Credit: Joseph Conway)

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