Sara Gray

On the Fourth of July, the Gedneys share their prime spot on Long Island Sound with a few lucky friends and family.

By Vicki J. Weathers

As nightfall approaches, B.J. Gedney lights candles and lanternsalong the terrace wall of her Shippan Point, Connecticut, home.Glancing up, she takes in the activity across Long Island Sound.Vessels began mooring in Westcott Cove earlier in the day, and nowtheir lights dance on the glassy water. The boaters, as well asgroups gathered on nearby beaches and at neighboring homes, unitein heady anticipation of the fireworks display.

"When we moved here five years ago, it seemed natural to have aparty and watch the fireworks with our friends and family," B.J.says as guests arrive for the Gedneys' annual Independence Daybarbecue. Her husband, Bill, adds, "We found our place in the sun,so we try to share it with others as often as we can." Theirdaughters-Cooper, Hayley, and Eli-join the festivities afterspending the afternoon boating with friends.

The Gedneys' love of the coast is as palpable as the salty airblanketing tonight's party. Bill, who grew up not far from RyeBeach on Long Island Sound, met B.J. in 1980 while vacationing atWesthampton Beach. Both had majored in business and were workingfor large companies, but their jobs didn't satisfy their careerexpectations. As their romance blossomed, B.J. and Bill felt agrowing desire to start a business.

Their professional paths took a turn by way of a gift in 1981."A friend gave me a cotton baseball cap he brought back from theCayman Islands," Bill says. "We liked it so much that B.J. had theidea to market similar hats to New York City restaurants. We weresewing logos on caps out of our Manhattan apartment when the ordersstarted coming in. We had to enlist outside labor to keep up withdemand."

Next, B.J. embroidered a polo player on a cap and approachedRalph Lauren. They passed on the caps, but showed interest in herstraw beach hats. Now, 27 years later, shops across the globe carryher extensive accessories collection, manufactured by Hat Attack.B.J. finds inspiration for her products during travels to Key West,the Caribbean, and Italy. "We're never far from the shore," shesays.

Suddenly, a brilliant light bursts above the water, illuminatingthe sky and slowly drifting downward. Guests edge closer to watch,their chorus of oohs and aahs answering each display. For theGedneys, this party celebrates more than the Fourth of July."Realizing the goal to live on the water is a dream come true,"B.J. says.

"The coast has been a constant for me," she adds. "Living hereis coming full circle."

Hat Attack; 800/982-1569 or hatattack.com

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