Forest Park: 128 Years of Beauty and History

By Ed Wendell

The Forest Park Golf Course, one of the few public golf courses in New York City, has been a big part of the Woodhaven landscape for 127 years. Forest Park itself is 128 years old and is rich with history and beauty.

This past weekend, we had the pleasure of giving a presentation on the history of Forest Park to a large group of volunteers who help maintain and beautify our park, which is now entering its 128th year. For a combination of beauty and history in Woodhaven, you’d be hard pressed to beat Forest Park.

Although much of Forest Park’s 538 acres consists of natural woodland, the park itself was planned and designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Originally envisioned as one giant, continuous park stretching from Brooklyn all the way to Jamaica (and originally called Brooklyn Forest), changes in population and the resulting development reduced the scope of that plan.

A nine-hole golf course was opened to the public and by 1905, the popularity of the golf course would prompt it to expand to 18 holes, originally stretching south all the way to Ashland Avenue, where residential homes marked the start of Woodhaven proper.

As part of the expansion, a Dutch Colonial golf clubhouse was built on the course in 1905 by the architectural firm of Helmle, Huberty & Hudswell, who also designed the landmark Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower in Brooklyn.

The golf course is still active and the beautiful clubhouse today is called Oak Ridge and serves as the home of the Forest Park Administration offices.

If you go east from the old clubhouse, you’ll eventually reach the Seuffert Bandshell (pronounced Soy-fert), a near 100-year old bandstand named after bandleader George Seuffert Sr.

For many years, Seuffert and his band entertained people at the bandshell and it was officially named in his honor in 1979.

A little further along, you’ll come across the Forest Park Carousel, which was designated as a landmark by the City of New York ten years ago, in 2013.

Artistically, the Forest Park Carousel is particularly notable as it was the handiwork of the legendary master carver Daniel Muller. Muller came to the United States from Germany as a child in the 1880s and as a young man he and his brother worked for Gustav Dentzel, a renowned carousel builder in his own right.

Dentzel’s father built carousels back in Germany going back to the mid-18th century. Muller took advantage of the opportunity to learn all of these old-world skills from Dentzel and blended it with his own realistic style to carve out a name for himself and in 1903, D.C. Muller and Bro. Company was founded.

Muller’s carvings were notable not only for being very beautiful and realistic; in some cases the carvings were militaristic, with horses sporting bugles, swords and canteens.

Over 14 years, D.C. Muller and Bro. created over a dozen carousels but, sadly, today only two remain: one in Cedar Point, Ohio, and ours right here in Forest Park.

The Forest Park Carousel contains three rows of carvings; the outer row contains 13 standing horses, three menagerie animals and two chariots. The inner two rows each contain 18 jumping horses (for a total of 36).

While the Forest Park Carousel is often referred to as a Muller carousel, you will also find a few carvings from Dentzel and Charles Carmel, another notable carousel artist of the same era, on the inner two rows.

Not far from the carousel you will find one of the most beautiful spots in New York City, the Greenhouse at Forest Park, which was designed by legendary greenhouse builders Lord & Burnham, who also built the New York Botanical Garden, the United States Botanic Garden in Washington D.C., and the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh.

Flowers and plants throughout parks in Queens and Brooklyn are grown right here, as they have been for over 100 years.

And if you continue walking east you will cross Woodhaven Boulevard and reach Victory Field, a large recreation complex with baseball fields, a running track, and a handball court. Victory Field was named after the Unknown Soldier of World War 1.

Today the track portion of Victory Field is named after longtime Woodhaven Assemblyman, the legendary Frederick D. Schmidt.

Forest Park is full of beauty, but it is also full of history and visitors to the park 100 years ago would be pleasantly surprised to see so much of their history preserved and beloved by the current residents of Woodhaven and the many volunteers that tend to the park.

If you are interested in this presentation we will be repeating it via Zoom on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 8 p.m. Email us at [email protected] for a free invite.

Ice Theatre of New York brings free performances to NYC students

By Stephanie Meditz

[email protected]

Ice Theatre of New York’s New Works and Young Artists Series brings free ice dancing performances and lessons to NYC public school students.

Beginning on Feb. 2, Ice Theatre of New York (ITNY) will begin its New Works and Young Artists Series (NWYAS) for the first time in three years. 

The program gives the gift of ice dance to NYC public school students by providing them with free live performances by ITNY professionals and ice skating lessons. 

“Its goal is to introduce underserved public school students to skating on ice,” executive director Jirina Ribbens said. “And beyond just regular skating activity, to give them arts exposure to what we call dancing on ice, which is beautiful, choreographed performances and expressive movement on the ice.” 

ITNY’s mission is to establish ice dancing as an art form rather than a competitive sport or recreational activity. 

It is a repertory company that works with choreographers from both the dance and skating worlds, meaning that a choreographer might set a piece on one performer and reset the same piece on a different performer years later. 

“As a repertory company, you come in and you have to just learn all the different repertory that we are performing that season,” Ribbens said. “So it’s really truly like a dance company.” 

Ice Theatre of New York was the first company in the nation to be recognized as a non-profit dance company and is one of few dance companies that dances on ice. 

NWYAS performances include young apprentices who are close in age to the attending students, so they can see the possibility of their own progression. 

Ribbens said that NWYAS is many students’ first time ice skating. 

Ice Theatre of New York gives many students the opportunity to ice skate for the first time.

“We teach them how to safely fall and then to get up again on the ice,” she said. “The program is really inspiring for the children as well as for our performers because they feel like rock stars when the children respond to their performances, especially the young performers.” 

The New Works and Young Artists Series is open to NYC public schools, mainly Title 1 schools, and students visit their local ice rink as a class during the school day. 

The program will visit Lakeside in Prospect Park and City Ice Pavilion in Long Island City, as well as several rinks in Manhattan. 

ITNY also began virtual programming during the COVID-19 pandemic, which it has continued this year. 

“That reaches the children in the other boroughs or people who are further away from the rink,” Ribbens said. “And not all schools have bussing programs or are able to come to do the live programming. So we reach out to those schools with the virtual program where they get to watch a short video and then we teach them in their classroom how to fall and get up. It’s actually hilarious.” 

Ribbens is grateful that the program is operating in-person again, but during the pandemic, the virtual program was a nice change for students whose classes were strictly online. 

“They got to ask all these questions from the performers and they got to see exciting videos,” she said. “We didn’t know how it was going to be received, but it was very well-received. The teachers loved it because it really gave them a different thing to do with the children during the pandemic.”

By bringing ice dancing to students’ neighborhoods, ITNY hopes to spark their love for it and inspire them to continue skating. 

“We introduce them to their local rinks and then we say, ‘Look, come back, come skate again,’” Ribbens said. “Not only is it an activity that they can do safely outdoors in the winter, but they can also learn about all the different jobs that are at the rink, from ticket taker to zamboni driver, which is usually everybody’s favorite.”
In addition to the New Works and Young Artists Series, ITNY offers weekly classes at Bryant Park and Sky Rink during the season. 

It also holds several concerts to engage the community, including one at Bryant Park on Feb. 21 during Kids’ Week that spotlights young performers. 

“We cater the programming to the audiences that are coming, but they’re all free,” Ribbens said. “We try to reach as many audiences as possible. We’ve even done programming at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. They have a small synthetic ice surface.” 

To learn more about ITNY’s programming, visit https://www.icetheatre.org, e-mail [email protected] or call (212)-929-5811.

Porcelli: The Other Side of Education (2/2)

CTE Shop Class:  NOW – IT’S HIGH-TECH

Consider all career options

By Mike Porcelli

To the question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” – consider this: it is always best to weigh every option available in terms of your own personal characteristics. Do not just rely on advice from the “experts,” who don’t really understand you.

The “college is the best path for everyone” concept, created and perpetuated by school counselors and administrators, who were themselves indoctrinated by their own college experiences, is based on several myths that have led generations of students into costly college programs that did not work to develop their maximum potential – leaving them in debt, without valuable job skills.

These education professionals generally have little or no experience with the abilities and earning capabilities of skilled trade workers. For the most part, they themselves have no trade skills and have little appreciation for those who possess them. If their career views are so essentially biased, how can they then give effective career advice?

The primary myth about college grads earning more than those without degrees is based on the classic faulty method of comparing apples and oranges. It compares “average” earnings of various careers, but that technique yields a highly inaccurate picture of occupational salary differentials.

A more accurate evaluation of salary data would compare earnings of people with similar levels of training in various jobs. For example, the average worker with a masters degree will usually earn less than a highly skilled trade worker with a comparable, less costly, level of technical training.

Last week, we reported that the average skilled trade worker in New York City earns more than the average Ph.D professional. Additional research shows that, on an hourly basis, academics with Ph.D’s earn near the minimum wage, while the earnings of Ph.D’s in private industry are about equal to the salaries of similarly credentialed skilled trade workers. This will come as a big surprise to those who have been inculcated with the “college is the only path to career success” myth.

Accurate earnings potential research is essential. But remember, money is not the only factor to consider in career selection. Compatibility of abilities and interests with careers, must be the primary factors considered. 

To better understand the intricacies of career selection, try Googling this: “trade-school-college-statistics.” The search will yield many informative sites. One of the most useful is: https://financesonline.com/trade-school-college-statistics/  

Career counselors: Examine the information on this and similar sites, before giving advice to students.

Students: Do the same, as if your future success depends on it – it will!

Make informed career decisions!

Academic & Trade Education are Two Sides of a Coin. This column explores the impact of CTE programs on students, society, and the economy.

Mike Porcelli: life-long mechanic, adjunct professor, and host of Autolab Radio, is committed to restoring trade education in schools before it’s too late. https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-porcelli-master-mechanic-allasecerts/

ROSEMARIE BANCONI

Rosemarie Banconi passed away on Thursday, January 19, 2023 at the age of 85. Beloved wife of the late Richard V. Banconi, loving mother of Richard Banconi, Maryann Squires and Elizabeth Banconi, cherished sister of Michael Tuzzo, Josephine Pizzariello and Anthony Tuozzo, and also survived by many loving nieces and nephews. Mass of Christian Burial offered at Our Lady of Hope Church on Friday, January 27, 2023 at 9:45 AM. Entombment followed at St. John Cemetery Resurrection Mausoleum, Middle Village, NY under the direction of Papavero Funeral Home, 72-27 Grand Avenue, Maspeth NY 11378.

VINCENT VALOROSO

Vincent Valoroso passed away on Thursday, January 19, 2023 at the age of 45. Beloved son of Concetta and the late Vincent Valoroso, loving father of Lorenzo, dear brother of Alphonso Valoroso, Francine Brennan and Dominick Valoroso, and cherished uncle of Steven, Joseph, Valentina, Emma, Angelo, Sofia, Olivia & Alfonso, Dominick and Anthony.  Funeral services held at papavero funeral Home on Saturday, January 28, 2023  4-8pm. Private Cremation followed at Fresh Pond Crematory, Middle Village, NY under the direction of Papavero Funeral Home 72-27 Grand Avenue, Maspeth NY 11378.

MARIAN RUSSO

Marian Russo passed away on Monday, January 23,2023 at the age of 88. Beloved daughter of the late Concetta and Antonino Russo, loving sister of Nunzio Russo and the late Roasario Russo, Carmela (Diego) Asaro and Anthony Russo, sister-in-law of Pat Russo and Ceil Russo, and also survived by many loving nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews, cousins and friends. In Lieu of Flowers, memorial donations may be made to: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Mass of Christian Burial offered at Transfiguration Church on Friday, January 27, 2023. Interment followed at Calvary Cemetery, Woodside, NY under the direction of Papavero Funeral Home, 72-27 Grand Avenue, Maspeth NY 11378.

Gold Stocks Are Rising In 2023 – Should You Buy Or Sell?

It’s not that 2022 was a bad year for gold – there was growth. But its value didn’t grow nearly as much as analysts were expecting and investors were hoping.

In 2023, predictions are more optimistic, but it’s important to remember that they’re just predictions. If 2022 fell short, it’s entirely possible that 2023 misses the mark, too.

A lot of the uncertainty hinges on the same economic drivers that slowed gold’s growth in 2022, such as increasing interest rates, rising values of U.S. Treasuries, a potentially strong U.S. dollar, and the uncertainty surrounding demand in China, which is gold’s largest market.

Despite uncertainty and potential headwinds, gold has plenty going for it in 2023, too. The Fed is still raising rates, but slowing its pace. Although the loosening of COVID policies had a negative impact on China’s economy in December 2022, these same policy reversals should lead to a more robust GDP in China.

Currency is only as valuable as society says it is. Gold, on the other hand, is a tangible asset, and a finite one. That means even when paper money loses value, gold should hold its own. Hence, gold is widely considered to be an inflation hedge. If we didn’t measure the value of gold in currency, that assessment would be true 100% of the time.

But we do measure the value of gold in currency, so there are other mitigating factors that impact the value of this commodity.

For example, America’s last period of significant inflation started in 1973 and extended throughout the rest of the decade. During this timeframe, gold did follow the rule of being an inflation hedge. Its annualized return was 35%, even while inflation reached 8.8%.

Gold Is Expected To Rise In 2023 As U.S. Dollar Weakens

So should you buy or sell your gold in 2023? Starting in late 2022, gold futures started an upward trend. This was just as the U.S. dollar started softening in value. While there will be bumps one way or the other, the overall outlook for gold in 2023 is shiny.

No prediction is guaranteed, commodities are extremely volatile over the short-term, and this particular outlook depends on the U.S. dollar continuing to soften, in concert with a few other factors. But we’re already seeing some early signals in this vein.

The U.S. dollar may reverse course once again as the Fed is expected to continue raising rates throughout 2023, though the latest rate hike revealed a slowdown in their pace. These rates also affect the value of U.S. Treasuries. If the dollar stays strong, that makes it harder for gold prices to jump up.

Even if rates do come down, a positive year for gold also includes an expectation for higher demand in China with COVID-19 restrictions finally loosening. But what we saw in December was a Chinese economy that reacted negatively to the recent swing in COVID-19 policies, with business closures, labor struggles and many choosing to stay home.


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(Opinion) Journalists: Call racism what it is

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood via Pexels.

What a hell of a week it’s been.

A member of Queens Community Board 5 was removed last week by Queens Borough President Donovan Richards after he referred to COVID-19 as the “Wu flu” during the most recent public full board meeting.

We worked hard to break the story first for a few reasons. Community Boards are an integral part of the neighborhoods we live and work in, and its members represent us and our ever-growing needs. It’s in our DNA to get hyperlocal.

With that said, we must hold these officials to a higher standard. They must be held accountable for their words and actions. If that comes with consequences – so be it.

Richard Huber, a CB5 board member from Glendale, has been removed by Queens Borough President Donovan Richards after the use of an anti-Asian slur during the most recent public meeting.

We have no regrets for how the story was reported, and would like to take this opportunity to explain why journalists should not be afraid to insert themselves into the stories they report.

Complete objectivity in journalism is an outdated concept, which was first legitimized in the 1920s.

As the news industry evolved, the 1960s and onward saw more and more journalists including analysis and interpretation into their reporting – not “just the facts,” as a 2018 TIME opinion piece highlighted.

In 2023, an era of science denial, calls to end our democracy, increased lies by politicians and an abundance of hate and violence – we cannot dance around these issues.

As journalists, we pay attention to these current events on a to-the-minute basis, and no one quite understands these topics in the same ways we do. We have an enormous responsibility.

Professional judgements differ from personal ones. They are based on factual evidence and experience.

Modern notions of objectivity, which strive to be non-partisan, undermines the idea of us being objective to the truth. It’s a disservice to give two talking points equal 50/50 weight, and isn’t objective in deference to the truth.

We reported that the use of “Wu flu” is racist, and that it is a “known racial slur against Chinese people and Asians as a whole.”

To call it anything else is dodging. “Racially tinged” and other synonyms are simply weak writing.

The World Health Organization (WHO) does not name infectious diseases haphazardly. In 2015, it released new guidelines for the best practices of determining these names, citing the aim to minimize “unnecessary negative impact of disease names on trade, travel, tourism or animal welfare,” and “avoid causing offense to any cultural, social, national, regional, professional or ethnic groups.”

Quickly now, give me one reason other than assigning blame to a certain geographic location for this virus, did Richard Huber have for using that terminology?

Yes, COVID-19 destroyed and ended lives. But to assign blame only opens the door for hate and violence against a certain racial group, in this case, Asians – as they are often viewed as a monolith despite hailing from such a culturally diverse continent.

This term not only assigns blame to Asian people, but it deflects blame from the U.S. government – which many feel did not do nearly enough to address this virus from the get go. 

It ignores the fact that politicians and people gave up, when the easiest thing was to wear a mask and social distance.

If you say “Wu flu,”  you have no serious analysis of what happened with the country’s pandemic response, and we learn nothing about how to protect ourselves.

As for his claims that COVID-19 vaccines alter DNA,we’re going to get a bit medical here, so pay attention; Messenger RNA and Covid-19 vaccines work by delivering instructions to cells in our body to build protections against the virus that causes COVID. After the body produces an immune response it discards all the vaccine, never entering the nucleus of your cells.  But I guess if you don’t trust the CDC, the WHO or just about every accredited medical organization, then go with some study in Sweden.

Community Boards are a forum for members of the neighborhood to give input on bus routes, sanitation, precinct police response, zoning and parks. The borough president appoints the members and expects engagement to help him make decisions on budget items, where attention needs to go to infrastructure (like flooding).

It is not a forum for members to spread opinions about global issues.

It should be noted that the CB5 meeting was held remotely to begin with as a precaution due to COVID-19, flu and RSV concerns.

Yes, Richard – your remarks are completely protected under the first amendment. But you are appointed by the borough president to represent your neighborhood to him. It would have been great if you just apologized for being insensitive, after one member of the board commented that he was offended by what he saw as a racist comment. That’s what we do when our words offend someone, whether we intended it or not.

Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company celebrates Lunar New Year in Flushing

By Stephanie Meditz

[email protected]

The Dragon Dance is one of Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company’s signature works.

On Feb. 5 at 3 p.m., Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company will ring in the new year at the Kupferberg Center for the Arts in Flushing. 

Although the company has celebrated Lunar New Year in Queens for over a decade, this year’s performance is special — 2023 marks both the year of the water rabbit and the 50th anniversary of hip-hop dance. 

In addition to its signature blend of contemporary dance and traditional Chinese dance, the company integrates hip-hop into this year’s routines. 

Choreographer and Director of New and Contemporary Dance PeiJu Chien-Pott collaborated with hip-hop legends Kwikstep and Rokafella on a modernized Lion Dance. 

“A traditional Lion Dance will also be included in the program, but this year, it’s a new Lion Dance…the Lion is dancing with hip-hop beats composed by DJ Kwikstep, a legendary hip-hop artist,” she said. “Two dancers will be wearing a traditional lion costume, a lion head, cape and pants. Visual-wise, it’s a lion, but movement-wise, it’s hip-hop movement with traditional steps. It’s a combination of both…we’re really looking forward to the premiere.” 

This collaboration was new territory for Chien-Pott, who is trained in classical ballet and was a principal dancer for the Martha Graham Dance Company for eight years. 

“I was putting myself in a completely new zone…not only to try something new but also to stimulate myself to expand my movement vocabulary, artistic-wise,” she said, “It’s a collaborative effort, we respect each other. I respect their expertise in hip-hop and they respect my expertise in the contemporary dance field…At the same time, I try very hard not to lose the traditional Lion Dance form…It’s constantly finding a perfect balance to fit into three areas: hip-hop, modern dance and traditional Chinese form.” 

The company will also perform celebratory routines with vibrant costumes, such as YungHe (Harvest Song), a Peacock Dance and a traditional Dragon Dance, its signature work. 

The Peacock Dance is a well-beloved celebratory piece that the company will perform.

“We kept the tradition of the signature repertory, including a Dragon Dance, the Coin Dance and also some other signature works of Nai-Ni Chen,” Chien-Pott said. “But also, through years of her development, creativity-wise, each year we added one or two contemporary repertoires that she created in recent years. So each year, there’s at least one or two premieres of new works or new collaborations with different artists.” 

In addition to the hip-hop twist on the Lion Dance, this year’s celebration will feature a work entitled “Dragon Cipher,” that Nai-Ni Chen began to develop in 2017.

The cast consists of three hip-hop dancers and four company members who specialize in its blend of contemporary and traditional Chinese dance.

“This work is a perfect marriage to combine Chinese contemporary dance and hip-hop dance movement,” Chien-Pott said. “Other than the movement itself, it expresses the East and West culture embracing each other to form a unity.” 

This year celebrates the year of the rabbit in the Chinese zodiac, which is a symbol of abundance. 

“The rabbit is considered gentle, kind and peaceful, but the rabbit also can move very fast,” Chien-Pott said. “The storyline is that the emperor announces that whoever can attend his birthday first will be the first zodiac sign. The rabbit was arriving first, but no other animals were there before him, so he was waiting and fell asleep. The rat, ox and tiger were literally arriving at the emperor’s birthday party when the rabbit woke up.”

This tale explains why the rabbit is the fourth sign of the zodiac. 

Other performances will include two instrumental pieces by The Chinese Music Ensemble of New York. 

“Queens has a lot of Chinese community, especially Flushing. Other than Canal St. in Manhattan, Flushing is the second biggest Chinese community, particularly in Queens,” she said. 

Tickets for the performance are available for $15 at https://kupferbergcenter.org/event/lunar-new-year-of-the-water-rabbit/

1 dead, 1 injured after Elmhurst nightclub shooting

Happened outside Amadeus Nightclub, cops say

By Ledger Staff

[email protected]

Photo: Apple Maps

A man was killed and a woman was left injured after a shooting during the wee hours of the night this past Saturday in Elmhurst.

Police say that on Jan. 21 at around 4 a.m., they responded to a 911 call reporting that a man had been shot at Amadeus Nightclub, located at 79-51 Albion Avenue.

When they arrived at the scene, officers observed a 19-year-old man with gunshot wounds to his back and shoulder, and a 31-year-old woman with a gunshot wound to the buttocks.

Emergency medical services responded and the male victim was transported to the nearby NYC Health & Hospitals/ Elmhurst, where he was pronounced deceased.

The female victim was transported to the same hospital, where she’s listed in stable condition.

A preliminary investigation determined that there was a dispute inside the nightclub that continued outside, where an unknown individual discharged a firearm multiple times, striking the victims.

The unknown individual fled the scene in a black and white SUV to parts unknown.

The identity of the deceased is pending proper family notification.

There are no arrests at this time and the investigation remains ongoing.

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