Brian Hyland was a 16-year-old boy living in Woodhaven when he recorded a song that would change his life. That song, “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,” was a smash hit, reaching number one here and in several countries around the world.
To this day, you can sing a bit of that song to nearly anyone in the world and they’ll recognize it. It’s a song that makes people happy, something songwriters today seem to easily forget.
Brian Hyland went on to score two-dozen other Top 100 hits, including “Sealed With A Kiss,” another one of those songs that if you say you don’t know it, you will the minute you hear it.
The Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society will be unveiling a sign at Hyland’s childhood home near the corner of 78th Street and 87th Road. It won’t be one of those blue-and-yellow markers you are used to seeing around town, you aren’t allowed to put those up for living people.
Instead, with the consent of the homeowners, we will be placing a beautiful marker on the property of the house for all to see. That ceremony begins at 3 p.m. on Saturday, September 18, and everyone is welcome to attend.
And Brian Hyland will be at the ceremony, as will many of his friends and family, making this a real Woodhaven homecoming.
That has to be a bit of a surreal moment for someone, but also a nice one. We’ve all revisited our childhood homes. Brian Hyland does the same whenever he visits Woodhaven on one of his many trips back to the New York City area for a show.
On his last visit before the pandemic, we had the opportunity to see him live at the Westbury Music Fair. After the show, we met him in person. He’s a nice, down-to-earth guy, and it doesn’t take long to realize that he’s a Woodhaven Fella.
You know what I mean by that. He loves talking about the neighborhood and reminiscing about the old days. About Neir’s, about Lewis’ of Woodhaven, about anything Woodhaven related you can think of.
In fact, talk to Brian for a few minutes and you forget that he’s been famous for over 60 years. You realize that he’s just a guy from the neighborhood. That’s what makes this upcoming homecoming weekend so special.
Just imagine this for a moment. He was 16 years old, a graduate of St. Thomas the Apostle and student at Franklin K. Lane High School; a neighborhood kid who lived off 78th Street.
His dad belonged to a club that met around the corner at the Union Course Bar, known today as Neir’s Tavern.
With success came the opportunity to move, which his family took, relocating to Long Island. But in his heart, Hyland remained a kid from Woodhaven.
No matter how many years go by, your childhood home is still your home. That is where you grew up, and if you look hard enough and close your eyes you can see your loved ones coming out the front door.
After the ceremony, we’ll take a short walk, an Itsy Bitsy Parade you might say, over to Neir’s Tavern where we’ll have a great big “welcome home” bash for Hyland.
We’re expecting a lot of former residents of Woodhaven to come for the day, so it will really be a homecoming party for everyone.
One special guest that weekend will be Laurie Ennd. She manages the and was instrumental in making this happen. There will be other special guests but we’re keeping all that under wraps for now.
We hope you’ll join us for this special event. If you have any questions, please drop us a line at [email protected]. Hope to see you there.