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Riverhead Raceway Indian Struck Down By Hurricane Sandy

Beloved icon has been a part of Riverhead history for generations.

Riverhead Raceway's iconic Indian is no more.

The giant Indian who towered over the entrance to Riverhead Raceway on Route 58 was found broken and in pieces on Tuesday, torn from its majestic pedestal, its arm frozen in perpetual salute, a victim of Hurricane Sandy.

Barbara and Jim Cromarty, Riverhead Raceway owners, were devastated to learn that the Indian had been damaged during the storm.

"We are so sad about our Indian," said Barbara Cromarty on Wednesday. "He was like part of the family."

Cromarty assured that their goal is to repair the Indian to his former glory. "We think most of the damage is in the arm and that the top part can be re-attached," she said. "We had put cement into his legs so they stand solidly."

The Indian, Cromarty said, was first purchased from the Danbury Fair in Connecticut when it went out of business in 1980.

The Cromartys once ran the Suffolk County Fair at the racetrack, she said, and they believed the Indian would be a crowd pleaser.

"We ran the fair for 25 years and it would run for 11 days and ended on Labor Day," Cromarty said. "We built a giant teepee to go with him and when we ran the Fair we used to use the teepee for the children. They would sit inside and we would have someone tell them about the history of Long Island Indians.  It was great."

Based on his claim to fame, the Cromartys named the Indian Chief Running Fair. The local icon received his five minutes of fame in the national spotlight when the television show "The Sopranos" used Riverhead Raceway for a segment -- just because executives wanted to feature the larger-than-life Indian.

"He has a lot of fans and he is a very large part of Jim's and my life," Cromarty said.

Katie Gilchrist Cote October 31, 2012 at 06:40 PM
We love the Indian! We hope he recovers quickly!
Lisa Finn October 31, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Katie, We all do! So glad he'll be repaired.

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