Royal Star Theatre brings Peanuts to life onstage

By Stephanie Meditz

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Royal Star Theatre taking their final bows after a performance of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

Last weekend, Royal Star Theatre brought audience members back to their childhoods with its production of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

The four-show run at The Mary Louis Academy in Jamaica was the company’s first full fledged production since the COVID-19 pandemic.

In her directorial debut with RST, Alison Kurtzman made the difficult choice of what show to put on after two and a half years away from the stage and ultimately made the perfect decision —  a lighthearted, universally loved production with a small cast.

“We put a lot of thought into what was the right show to do in terms of what cast we would have available, how comfortable people would feel coming down to audition or coming to see a show, all that casting,” she said. “It was just really exciting to be able to kind of help this and be the first show back.”

“I don’t think people realized how much they missed this until they came back to it,” she continued. “It’s just a really exciting time for all of us, and it’s really great to be able to be back in some semblance.”

The musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” consists of a series of vignettes that depict Charles M. Schulz’s beloved Peanuts in adorably funny situations that align with their infamous traits.

For instance, Linus van Pelt (played by Danielle Fleming) and his signature blanket led a lively dance number,”My Blanket & Me,” but not before he attempts and fails to walk away from it.

Lucy van Pelt (Aglaia Ho) stomped around and demanded the other Peanuts to participate in a survey to measure her crabbiness level.

Daniel Kuhlman especially shone in the titular role — from start to finish, he emulated an anxious child with every stumbling step and pout when the cute little redhead once again did not notice him.

“Most of Queens’ community theaters are just coming back this summer, so everyone was just so excited to be here that it wasn’t hard to get excitement out of the cast,” Kurtzman said. “It really didn’t take much to get them to have that exuberance.”

It was no small feat for this cast to adopt children’s body language in a convincing way —  the Peanuts are all children (or dogs), but RST’s cast was made up entirely of adults.

“Characterization is super important in this musical because you’re remaking these beloved comic strip characters and all these specials that people watch around the holidays onto the stage,” Caitlin Leahy said, in reference to her role as Snoopy. “You have to be larger than life, especially since it’s a stage production.”

Leahy, who wanted to play Snoopy as soon as she found out about the show, screamed when Kurtzman called to tell her she got the part.

“I feel like Snoopy and I have a lot in common,” she said. “Very effervescent personalities, but Snoopy can be very sassy at times, so I’m trying to bring out that side of me more…There are a lot of times where Snoopy has this switch between being a calm and stoic personality and switching to this very funny, comedic, almost predatory dog who still has animalistic instincts. ”

Leahy, the youngest member of the cast, attended high school at The Mary Louis Academy and returned to its stage as a college student.

“As I’m still in the area for college, I’m always passing by,” she said. “I’m officially an adult now onstage, and it feels different because I’m working with different people and it’s a different production. And while the change was pretty drastic, I’m still at where I started my theater experience in freshman year.”

Although this was Leahy’s first show with RST, she had arguably the most difficult stage directions in the show, between standing atop her doghouse, chasing metaphorical sticks on all fours and finding a balance between human and canine movements.

The performance was held at The Mary Louis Academy in Jamaica.

Daniel Kuhlman (Charlie Brown) likewise had a difficult role to play, given that his character was likely everyone in the audience’s favorite.

“I think more than trying to copy any previous idea of what Charlie Brown is, I tried to look at it more from ‘What does a seven-ish year old with anxiety look like?’ and just sort of use that as a base and go from there,” he said. “And then make sure that whenever I’m rehearsing lines at home or when I’m running the songs, I’m always keeping in mind that I am an anxious, very young child.”

Although Kuhlman never studied theater or pursued it as a career, it has been inseparable from his everyday life.

He posts niche theater content on his TikTok account, @dankuhlman, which boasts 12.9k followers.

“Anyone who knows me…knows that, at any given point, it’s not ‘What’s your next show?,’ it’s ‘What are you in rehearsals for right now?’” he said.

Royal Star Theatre dedicated its run of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” to Natalie “Cookie” Knisbaum, one of RST’s founding members who died recently.

To learn about Royal Star Theatre’s upcoming productions, visit their website at

In The Age of Community Boards

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: positions on Community Boards should have term limits.

Community Board 5’s monthly meeting last Wednesday is the latest example of the point.

After some discussion of holding the Sept. meeting in person, the Board ultimately decided to do it on Zoom once again.

Fine, whatever.

But before the members could get to saying the Pledge of Allegiance completely out of sync with their speakers on, another 20 minutes were spent figuring out how to get the Zoom working smoothly. It’s quite hilarious, but also a bit uncomfortable to view an important and eventful meeting, with public hearings regarding the Fiscal Year 2024 Capital and Expense Budget, and the proposed conversion of streets in Glendale. How many times can one hear, “speak up?”

Too bad the entire meeting was extremely hard to follow, filled with formal jargon and bickering, and inaccessible to people new to the community and maybe even longtime residents.

“Community” is literally in the name of the agency, shouldn’t that be what it’s all about?

A burst of energy came through the screen when Eric Butkiewicz, the young Middle Village man who was recently appointed chair of the Transportation Committee, spoke about the committee’s evaluations of the two-way Glendale streets proposed to be converted into one-ways.

Butkiewicz spoke clearly, eloquently and actually seemed passionate about what he was discussing.

Can’t say the same for some of the others.

There was some confusion toward the end of the meeting on whether or not the board should vote on a matter or table it.

If the chairman of the board has to settle a disagreement with “Tell me what you want to do before I shoot myself,” it might be time to re-think some board positions.

Invite younger people to become engaged with matters concerning the community instead of making decisions for a demographic you no longer represent.


Helen Valenti passed away on Sunday, September 11, 2022 at the age of 89. Beloved Wife of the late Frank. J. Valenti. Loving Sister of Margaret Shepherd and the late Richard Wiggins and Donald Wiggins. Cherished Aunt and Great-Aunt. Private Cremation held on Tuesday, September 13, 2022 at Fresh Pond Crematory, Middle Village, NY. Entombment of Cremains to follow at Lutheran All-Faiths Cemetery, Middle Village, NY under the direction of Papavero Funeral Home, 72-27 Grand Avenue, Maspeth NY 11378.


Vito Pascullo passed away on Wednesday, September 14, 2022 at the age of 81. Beloved Son of the late Anna & Antonio Pascullo. Loving Brother of Angela Cutrone, Dominick Pascullo, Pasquina Molfetta, Lucy Iacobazzi and the late Teresa Loiacono. Mass of Christian Burial offered at St. Adalbert’s Church on Monday, September 19, 2022 at 10 AM. Entombment followed at Cimitero di Palo del Colle, Bari, Italy under the direction of Papavero Funeral Home, 72-27 Grand Avenue, Maspeth NY 11378.


Tessie Balagot Tabile passed away on Tuesday, September 13, 2022 at the age of 68. Beloved Wife of Benjamin Tabile. Loving Mother of Edward (Justine) Tabile and Terence Tabile. Cherished Grandmother of CAsey. Mass of ChristianBurial offered at St. Sebastian Church on Saturday, September 24, 2022 9:45 AM. Interment followed at St. John Cemetery, Middle Village, NY under the direction of Papavero Funeral Home, 72-27 Grand Avenue, Maspeth NY 11378.


Cesar Cabezas Burneo passed away on Saturday, September 17, 2022 at the age of 90. Beloved Husband of Josefina Cabezas. Loving Father of Marcela C. Rapaport, Yanira Cabezas, Xavier Cabezas, Marizol Cabezas, Jose Cavezas and the late Cesar Cabezas. Cherished Grandfather of 14 grandchildren and great-grandfather of many great-grandchildren. Mass of Christian Burial offered at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church on Monday, September 19, 2022 10:30 AM. Entombment followed at Ferncliff Cemetery Rosewood Mausoleum, Hartsdale, NY under the direction of Papavero Funeral Home, 72-27 Grand Avenue, Maspeth NY 11378.

Candlelight vigil at Juniper Valley Park: 21 years since 9/11

By Stephanie Meditz

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Deacon Paul Norman opened the vigil with a prayer.

Although they could not see the 9/11 Tribute in Light through the rain, Middle Village residents held the Twin Towers’ memory in their hearts on Sunday. 

The 9/11 Candlelight Vigil Committee of Queens held its annual vigil in Juniper Valley Park to honor all the lives that were lost 21 years ago. 

The vigil consisted of prayers, music, poems and the reading of the names of the men and women who died. 

“We come remembering those who lost their lives in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania,” Deacon Paul Norman said in his opening prayer. “We are mindful of the sacrifice of public servants who demonstrated the greatest love of all by laying down their lives for friends.” 

The speakers at the vigil recounted the fear and horror of Sept. 11th, the grief for all the people who died and the renewed strength and unity of New York City in the days that followed. 

“On this day 21 years ago, life as we knew it was forever changed,” said Frank DeBiase of the 9/11 Candlelight Vigil Committee. “The days that followed were filled with a sense of immense loss, grief and sadness. Yet, through the smoke, through the debris, through the unending agony of uncertainty, rose a spirit the likes of which many had never seen before and few ever thought possible.” 

“Many of us lost a friend, a relative, a neighbor or co-worker on Sept. 11, 2001,” he continued. “Many have perished and many continue to suffer from having been exposed to the toxic environment in and around the World Trade Center site. It is with this in mind that we gather in this special place each year to honor their memory and to pray for their families, our city and our great nation.” 

This is precisely why Al Haag and his family attend the vigil every year. 

“It’s important to come back every year to pay our respects,” he said. “One of my close friends passed away. He was a firefighter…so we come every year. I think we missed one so far.”

Leonora Norman recalled her own fear for her father and brother, both of whom were in the city that day. 

“My brother, now he’s a captain in the fire department, back then he was in 238, and his lieutenant died. And so he was called in afterwards, and we were worried about him,” she said. 

“My dad worked back in New York,” she continued. “They had all those people down in the basement of that building waiting to be cleared to go home, and he remembered covering his mouth, seeing the filaments and everything in the air.” 

Heather Arzberger, chairperson of the arts department at Christ the King Regional High School, accompanied the reading of the names with a beautiful flute melody, followed by the playing of “Taps” in honor of veterans. 

“If you have never visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., you should put it on your to-do list,” DeBiase said. “Walking past the wall and seeing over 52,000 names of the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country is such a moving experience.” 

There is a Sept. 11th memorial garden at Juniper Valley Park that the 9/11 Candlelight Vigil Committee works with JC Landscaping and the NYC Parks Department to maintain. 

Several elected officials and community leaders attended the vigil, including Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar; Councilman Bob Holden; commanding officer of the 104th Precinct, Deputy Inspector Kevin Coleman; Community Board 5’s District Manager Gary Giordano; Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi and Congresswoman Grace Meng. 

Also in attendance were the Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, Vietnam Veterans Chapter 32, the Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club Chapter 16, the Middle Village Volunteer Ambulance Corp, members of the NYPD and fire and Emergency Medical Services. 

“The torch is ours to carry,” DeBiase said in his closing remarks. “It is up to us to ensure that future generations never forget, and more importantly, always remember those who perished on and as a result of that horrific day and those of us who proudly honor their memory.”

Ice Cream Window: ‘Different, but still the same’

By Stephanie Meditz

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At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ice Cream Window served scoops of happiness to the community such that it became a permanent fixture. 

Intended as a three-week pop-up in Karlssonwilker design studio, the shop brought Ridgewood’s original immigrant populations together by experimenting with traditional cultural flavors in its ice cream. 

Karlssonwilker, originally headquartered in Manhattan, moved to Ridgewood when a developer bought out multiple neighboring properties. 

“We knew that our days were numbered as well, and that they would tear down these whole buildings and build a skyscraper,” said Elisabeth Smolarz, Karlssonwilker photographer and founder of Ice Cream Window. 

Born in Poland and raised in Germany, Smolarz knew of the large Polish and German-speaking communities in Ridgewood, as well as its overall population increase over the last few years. 

With the help of some friends in the area, she bought the new Karlssonwilker design studio space on Woodward Avenue, along with the apartment above it. 

While renovating the building’s facade, Smolarz recalled her time living in Gowanus and saw the need for some kind of outdoor component. 

“It had a bench outside. It was very dark inside, so I would oftentimes sit outside and work or read,” she said. “What was lovely about that, being outside, was that I met all the neighbors immediately. I knew everyone on my block within a few months.” 

This goal is what prompted the installment of a window, and for a while, Smolarz wondered what to do with it. 

In 2019, she visited Lady Moo Moo in Bedford-Stuyvesant, an ice cream shop that serves its ice cream out of a window for customers to eat outside. 

“I tasted the ice cream and said, ‘Wow. This ice cream is amazing. I think this is the best ice cream I’ve ever had,’” Smolarz said. 

Smolarz’s daughter was born in January 2020, followed by the start of the pandemic. 

“Motherhood just became extremely lonely,” she said. “There were no mom groups. We had a digital one and it was nice, but you just couldn’t really connect with anybody.” 

During her many walks with her new baby that summer, she thought to follow Lady Moo Moo’s business model and temporarily use Karlssonwilker’s window to serve ice cream at a social distance. 

In August 2020, Ice Cream Window was born as a pop-up, with the ice cream delivered by Lady Moo Moo. 

Smolarz met many of her new neighbors in Ridgewood, and after the pop-up ended, they approached her on the street and asked when she would sell ice cream again. 

By popular demand, she agreed to reopen the shop for at least another year. 

Smolarz solicited the help of other local businesses such as Topos Bookstore Cafe, Millers and Makers, Porcelain and Plein Air to turn Ice Cream Window into a permanent shop. 

This past summer, Ice Cream Window collaborated with the longtime Ridgewood staple, Rudy’s Pastry Shop to sell ice cream sandwiches made with chocolate chip cookies. 

“That’s what’s beautiful about Ridgewood, that it is a community,” she said. “You can ask anyone for help, and people will help you.” 

Smolarz gives back to the community in various ways, such as cooking traditional Polish dishes at Woodbine’s free Sunday dinners. 

Most notably, though, she works to ensure that Ice Cream Window brings something new to Ridgewood without alienating its longtime residents, rather making them feel at home. 

“The flavors relate to the community, and to us personally,” she said, referencing her husband and the Karlssonwilker team. “We kind of channel our childhoods here.” 

Waldmeister, a traditional German flavor, has been well loved in Ridgewood for a long time.

For instance, one of Ice Cream Window’s specials is waldmeister, or sweet woodruff, a popular German flavor that was served in Ridgewood a long time ago. 

Ridgewood’s older Gottschee population can easily recognize the pumpkin seed oil that distinguishes Ice Cream Window’s styrian ice cream. 

“We have family in Vienna…so we first found out about it in Vienna when we were cooking dinner and then they served us vanilla ice cream with roasted pine nuts and a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil,” Smolarz said. 

Whenever she goes to visit them, she brings back authentic pumpkin seed oil for the ice cream. 

Ice Cream Window serves huge amounts of joy through one small window.

Hris, a flavor based on an Icelandic malt chocolate candy, is a nod to Hjalti Karlsson’s Icelandic heritage. 

Smolarz’s favorite flavor, “mak,” is based on a Polish poppy seed roll with a sugary lemon glaze called makowiec. 

Ice Cream Window also offers linden-flavored ice cream reminiscent of Smolarz’s childhood, but only during certain months in the spring.

“There was this moment, like end of May, early June, when all the linden trees were blooming in Ridgewood,” Smolarz said. “And I just love the smell so much. So during that time, we always make linden ice cream just to celebrate the season.” 

Other flavors in the rotation include dulce de leche, lucuma, lychee, matcha and red bean along with the typical vanilla and chocolate. 

Because Ice Cream Window uses such a small space within Karlssonwilker, its flavors are on rotation. 

“We’re trying to have flavors that kind of go beyond what’s familiar to us,” Smolarz said. “We kind of think, what else would the community like? And it’s very easy, Queens is the most diverse place on this planet, I think.” 

Ice Cream Window’s Instagram account, @icecreamwindow, has been an important tool to learn more about community members and foster a fun atmosphere. 

As a photographer for Karlssonwilker and photography instructor at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Smolarz loves to see customers post pictures of their ice cream. 

The star of the account, however, is a bright orange puppet, lovingly called “the window puppet,” that makes an appearance in every post announcing the flavors of the week. 

“Maybe next year when we get really good at puppetry, we’ll have a puppet theater for the kids,” Smolarz said. 

Because of her own daughter, Smolarz always works to include children in the fun of Ice Cream Window. 

She especially loves to see them try new, unknown flavors when vanilla or chocolate are not offered. 

“It’s always very sweet how, next time they come, they say, ‘I want a scoop of lucuma,’ or ‘I want a scoop of waldmeister,’” she said. “This is what’s amazing about ice cream. It just brings you a lot of joy.” 

Ice Cream Window will continue to serve joy to the Ridgewood community on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. until the temperature drops.

Volunteer group keeps Forest Hills clean

Forest Hills & Rego Park Graffiti Cleanup Initiative helps businesses

By Times Staff

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Volunteers cleaned up graffiti in various locations in Forest Hills, including Andre’s Hungarian Bakery.

A grassroots community group took to the streets of Forest Hills last week to restore the curb appeal of various local businesses.

The Forest Hills & Rego Park Graffiti Cleanup Initiative was founded in 2020 by Michael Perlman, a columnist for this newspaper, and Michael Conigliaro, the Republican candidate for the upcoming State Assembly District 28 election.

The group’s formation was inspired in part by the suspension of the Graffiti-Free NYC program by former 

Mayor Bill de Blasio, combined with an increasing number of local establishments tagged by vandals.

“Our community group’s mission is to restore and enhance commercial and residential properties by eliminating graffiti to foster civic pride,” Perlman said. “It’s our community, so we have the power in our hearts and fingertips to take it into our hands when we see a problem that needs to be addressed, rather than thinking that someone else will always pursue it.”

The initiative is powered solely by volunteers, and their work involves painting, scrubbing or power-washing properties that have been graffitied.

Group members conduct outreach to local businesses who may need help cleaning up and by posting about their efforts to social media.

These interactions have led to the recruitment of additional volunteers as well as donations from local businesses, including Ggny Painting Plus, AZ Painting & Refinishing and J&B Paint & Wallpaper.

Businesses that would like the Forest Hills & Rego Park Graffiti Cleanup Initiative to remove graffiti must first sign a consent form, and many are grateful for the positive impact the group has left in the community.

“If graffiti and other quality of life issues are not addressed in a timely manner, it often multiplies, but we are committed. As a case in point, it is a shame that some properties are tagged again, but it’s a matter of us to come forward and emphasize our commitment by maintaining them routinely,” Perlman said.

“I remember how the owners of YouTube 99 Cents on Queens Blvd in Forest Hills would thank me with a warm smile for volunteering, whenever I patronized their shop. We will soon be repainting their three gates.”

In addition to helping local neighborhoods and businesses on a larger scale, the initiative sets out to foster civic pride, teamwork and friendships.

“Volunteering has helped me understand my community, its history and I’ve met some great people from all walks of life throughout the process,” Kevin Sanichara, a Forest Hills resident and volunteer, said. “An area not being maintained leads to others not caring, which causes crime to go up and with the recent uptick in crime across New York City, it’s best we do our part as a community to keep the neighborhood pure and clean.”

Michael Perlman, Naima Sultana, Clifford Rosen and Kevin Sanichara help cover up a neighborhood eyesore.

Last Thursday, the group covered up eyesores tagged on numerous properties, including Andre’s Hungarian Bakery, Tu Casa Restaurant, Empire Liquors and NY Hot Bagels & Bialys in Forest Hills.

This Thursday evening, they plan to get together again and assist more businesses with graffiti removal.

Some group members feel it is their calling to volunteer.

“By working together in our community, we can bring lots of positive change. It could be graffiti cleaning, it could be preservation, it could be helping other neighbors who are in need. Our actions have a positive impact,” Naima Sultana, a volunteer and Forest Hills resident, said. “We all should have a purpose in our lives. My purpose is to help others,” she continued. “When I see my work bring a smile and joy in people’s lives, that is the greatest satisfaction of my life.”

The Forest Hills & Rego Park Graffiti Cleanup Initiative is proud to recruit new volunteers.

Those interested in participating can join the Facebook group “Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens – ‘Our Communities’” and contact Michael Perlman.

New York Renaissance Faire celebrates 45th anniversary

By Stephanie Meditz

[email protected]

Fairies and woodland creatures dance around the Maypole to celebrate the change of season.

Over Labor Day weekend, the vendors and actors at the New York Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo did not take any days off from transporting visitors back to Elizabethan England. 

The Faire, open on weekends in late summer and early fall, celebrated its 45th anniversary with its traditional marketplace, performances, costumes and food, including its infamous turkey legs. 

Upon entering the Faire, guests immediately land on Spende Penny Lane, a street aptly named for the 125+ artisans who set up shop there. 

Some of the many souvenirs to purchase include flower crowns, corsets, armor, swords, candles, incense, leather goods and even psychic readings. 

The marketplace consists almost entirely of independent vendors, meaning that artisans craft their merchandise by hand and rent their booths at the Faire every year. 

The Royal Candle Maker even holds live demonstrations where the artisan shows potential buyers how he designs his candles to retain less heat. 

Not only do these unique candles burn longer, but the wax melts in such a way that turns them into candle holders. 

Tara Vazquez, who sells intricate garlands and flower crowns that rival Titania herself, returned to the Faire for her third year. 

Vendor Tara Vazquez loves to help visitors find garland to match their outfits.

She loves to match her merchandise to visitors’ outfits, whether they come dressed in period costumes or everyday attire. 

“The most fun part is honestly that most people, between workers and patrons, just blend right in,” she said. “You’re just here to have fun. Everyone’s here for the same reason.” 

This past weekend was the Faire’s Marketplace Weekend, where patrons who spend $250 at the marketplace earn two free tickets to return to the Faire through Sept. 25. 

Although costumes are optional, many of the Faire’s patrons go all out with their Renaissance looks, and several travel to Renaissance fairs across the country. 

Suelen Feltrin frequently travels to fairs in the tri-state area and crafts a brand new look every time, with months of planning behind each one.

Suelen Feltrin wears a different look to each of the many Renaissance fairs she attends.

She visited the New York Renaissance Faire for the first time last weekend with her two daughters. 

“The last time I brought them, because of COVID, they were so little, so they don’t really remember it much,” she said. “They think this is their first one, but it’s really not. But they’re loving it so far.” 

Feltrin is happy to share this tradition with her daughters, who also dressed up in princess gowns. 

Although patrons often steal the spotlight, the Faire’s cast members stay in character during every visitor interaction for a truly transformative experience. 

There is a wide range of characters to encounter: fae in the Enchanted Forest, knights in shining armor at jousts and sly pickpockets who skulk across the Faire. 

One such character, Charles Schilling, has been a “secondhand salesman” at the Faire for four years. 

“Sometimes the first hand knows not that the second hand has it, but we tell the first hand not,” he said. 

He also noted the attention people give him, a “strange little man,” at the Faire as opposed to the bustle of urban centers. 

For the past nine years, Moe DeLawns has, appropriately, been the Shire groundskeeper and florist. 

“The Shire, in my opinion, is a very special place with a very special energy about it,” he said. “Because ne’er not you can see many places that are filled with such wonder and merriment as you can with Sterling Faire.” 

Charles Schilling and Moe DeLawns wear their “Faire day best” attire.

The Faire also hosts a Pub Crawl where guests can pay an additional $65 for a drink at four of its pubs. 

Guests who do not participate can laugh as the group quite literally crawls across the Faire to get to each pub. 

The New York Renaissance Faire is a show in itself with its immersive experiences, but it also includes games, rides and shows for the whole family. 

To commemorate the change in season, fairies dance and scatter pixie dust around the Maypole. 

The Chess Board hosts a real-life game of chess — two teams face off in a series of random one-on-one sword fights. 

A game called “Rotten Revenge,” faithful to the public humiliation that was common in Elizabethan England, allows guests to throw tomatoes at a human target. 

With all that it has to offer, the New York Renaissance Faire welcomes all lords and ladies to visit Sterling Shire on weekends through Oct. 9.

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