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.

New Citi Bike stations ‘on hold’ for District 5

CB5 votes to send letter to DOT requesting input

By Jessica Meditz

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The original proposal for the Citi Bike expansion in District 5, circulated by the DOT.

As the implementation of new Citi Bike stations for Queens District 5 comes closer, the debate on where they should go continues among members of the community.

Following an eventful Transportation Committee meeting of Community Board 5 on Nov. 29, the incoming installations are now “on hold” pending community feedback — much to the dismay of some residents.

The committee resolved that it would pen a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT), requesting that the board be able to play an “active role” in the implementation of the program and the placement of these stations. In the interest of preserving as many parking spaces as possible, the committee stated a preference for stations on sidewalks, daylighting and no parking areas.

At CB5’s monthly meeting on Dec. 14, the board voted overwhelmingly in favor of submitting the letter, in hopes that they can figure out a way to make the Citi Bike system work for everyone.

CB5 voted in favor of sending a letter to the DOT, requesting that they play an active role in the implementation of the program.

“A lot of people in the community have various opinions on it, and everyone just wants to make sure it’s implemented in a way that provides the maximum benefit, while minimizing any consequences or downstream negative effects,” Eric Butkiewicz, a Middle Village resident and chairman of the Transportation Committee, said in an interview.

He said that the DOT has scrapped the original map of the draft plan that was circulated earlier this year, in wake of the pause for community input.

The installation of the stations will be delayed until at least January, but it’s not certain as to when residents will begin seeing more Citi Bikes.

“I think this is the proper way to do it. [The DOT] is open to community feedback and how they go about putting these stations within the grid, and I think that’s where we come in as a Community Board…what works and what doesn’t,” Butkiewicz continued. “It seems that the DOT has scrapped or put aside locations in the previous plan that were right outside businesses, which they thought were a good idea. Once they consulted or heard feedback from those local businesses, they found out that it would conflict severely with the ability for them to operate.”

While Butkiewicz feels the recent conversations around the Citi Bike installation have been productive, other locals feel disappointed in the new plans and left out of the conversation — including Rachel Albetski, an urban planner who resides in Ridgewood.

She and another resident attended the last Transportation Committee meeting to engage with board members and publicly discuss Citi Bike in a positive light to demonstrate that many locals are in favor of the expansion happening as quickly as possible.

“As soon as the door was opened to let us into the meeting, we were immediately questioned by the District Manager [Gary Giordano] where we were coming from and who we’re associated with…I was really taken aback,” Albetski said in an interview. “I’ve never ever been treated like that at a public meeting.”

Albetski claimed that she was told the entry restrictions were COVID-related, and that she did not see a Zoom link immediately available as a remote option.

She was eventually let into the meeting and shared her thoughts about Citi Bike to all who were present.

“I just wanted to give a positive voice to someone who is pro Citi Bike, and part of that stance is being in favor of seeing them in the roadbed and not on the sidewalk. Once they’re on the sidewalk, you’re further congesting sidewalk space…sidewalk space is at a premium and they’re already congested. It just doesn’t make sense to put Citi Bike on the sidewalk,” Albetski said.

She argued that the discussion at the meeting to go back to the drawing board in terms of placements of the stations was confusing, and said that this would only delay the project from community members who will benefit from more Citi Bikes now.

“That process should be open to more people besides the ones in that room because I don’t really think that it’s completely representative of what everyone in the actual broader community thinks. You’re saying that no one wants this and that the community is against it, but there’s actually a broad swath of people out there that really want to see it,” she said. “It’s just good to have another option for people when they just want to get around within their neighborhood, and it’s a great supplement for trips that would have been made by transit or car.”

Various letters of support from locals were submitted to the public forum of the recent monthly board meeting, as well as another letter questioning whether or not the CB meetings are actually public.

In reference to the Transportation Committee meeting, Giordano said that all members of the public who wanted to be let in, were indeed permitted to enter.

“I had some concern about additional people coming, to the point where it would be unsafe — especially with COVID,” he said. “We didn’t have anyone standing outside not able to get in.”

All members of the community were then encouraged to become involved in future meetings, reiterating that every meeting — both committee and board meetings — are open to the public.

Zum Stammtisch celebrates 50th anniversary

Iconic German eatery serves Glendale for 50 years

By Jessica Meditz

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Zum Stammtisch’s comfortable interior. Photo: Zum Stammtisch.

Known for its hearty meals, fresh beer and comforting ambiance, Zum Stammtisch on Myrtle Avenue in Glendale is a neighborhood staple.

The well-loved German restaurant first opened its doors in November 1972, marking half a century of operation this month.

Zum Stammtisch was founded by John Lehner, who emigrated from Freising, Bavaria, Germany in the 1950s, along with two partners.

It was always Lehner’s dream to have his own German restaurant, as his father had a small establishment he took pride in back home.

After much dedication and hard work, Lehner found it rewarding to see his restaurant become a hub for the large German population that resided in Glendale. Within 10 years, he bought out his two partners, and became the sole owner of Zum Stammtisch.

Since Lehner’s death in 1993, his two sons, Werner and Hans, continue to keep the family business alive as co-owners.

Werner, Erna (mother) and Hans Lehner inside Stammtisch Pork Store. Photo: Zum Stammtisch

Werner Lehner, the eldest of the two, said that while many restaurants feel the need to change with the times, Zum Stammtisch prides itself on staying original and old-school.

“We do have some specials now that would be what you’d call a little more Americanized, like shrimp cocktail or prime rib. But we try to keep the same style of food, the same everything,” Lehner said.

“Back when we first opened, it was a very German neighborhood; everybody on the streets spoke German,” he continued. “Now, it’s almost like the UN out there, everybody’s different…which is great because instead of just having one type of clientele, you have everyone.”

Zum Stammtisch keeps things traditional in a multitude of ways, as seen by their waitresses in dirndl dresses and German specialties on the menu, such as goulash soup and Jägerschnitzel, a breaded veal cutlet served with a fresh mushroom sauce.

But the thing that truly makes the Zum Stammtisch experience different is the interior decor, which features a dimly lit atmosphere, stained glass windows, vintage artifacts at every glance — from German newspapers to beer steins — and even a large moose head on the wall to keep you company as you dine.

The Lehner brothers have taken steps to experiment with the establishment over the years, such as opening Stammtisch Pork Store & Imports in 2011, which is located right next to the restaurant.

The Pork Store offers authentic German meats and delicacies to its patrons, including fresh wurst, cheeses, salads, breads, chocolates, dairy products and more.

Lehner said that while all the standard sausages, such as bratwurst, krainerwurst and knockwurst, come from the Pork Store, the team switches things up with their “Weekly Wurst.”

“When we make our own, we try to make them a little more interesting…we make habanero mango bratwurst, which everyone really loves, we make Philly cheesesteak sausage, currywurst and even teriyaki pineapple,” he said. “It’s nice to have the place next door so we can experiment a little bit and bring different things over to the restaurant from there.”

In terms of beer, Zum Stammtisch keeps things simple with just five beers on tap: a lager, a dark beer, a weiss beer, a pilsner beer and a seasonal beer that is available as a novelty.

“We tap the kegs almost every day…there’s never a keg on there more than a couple of days,” Lehner explained. “It’s always extremely fresh.”

Many community members admire the dedication to quality that Zum Stammtisch offers, and have made it a regular part of their celebrations and feel-good moments. This is true for Gillian Guile, a Glendale resident.

“I have been going to Zum Stammtisch for as long as I can remember. My favorite memory was my family’s annual trip there for my Oma’s birthday every August. Her birthday was never complete until we went to Zums,” she said. “I was also lucky enough to celebrate my 21st birthday there before COVID with my friends and family. Prost to 50 years of great food, service and gemütlichkeit.”

The phrase “Zum Stammtisch” roughly translates to “to the special table,” and the team’s efforts have stayed true to its name for the last 50 years.

Lehner said that he’s had countless special memories in the restaurant over the years, but some of his favorite ones come from World Cup celebrations and watch parties, which are just around the corner.

Zum Stammtisch is a great place to watch the World Cup. Photo: Zum Stammtisch.

“It’s always a ton of work, but it’s always so satisfying to see the place so packed with so many people having a good time, as well as people you haven’t seen in a while,” he said.

It is important to the Lehners to continue serving the community for years to come, and keep German culture and traditions alive.

“Back in the old days, if you were German, you went to a German restaurant, if you were Italian, you went to an Italian restaurant,” he recalled. “I feel people have become much more adventurous, looking for new experiences. As old-school as we are for a lot of people, we are definitely a new experience.”

CB5 gives thumbs up to Glendale street conversions

DOT conducted area-wide study

By Jessica Meditz

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Since late 2021, residents of Glendale have advocated that a select few streets in the neighborhood be converted from two-way to one-way.

They started a petition in favor of conversions of the streets, citing their 30-foot width with parking on both sides — making it difficult for cars to fit while driving in both directions and thus, causing sideswipes to occur.

In response, Queens Community Board 5 requested the Department of Transportation (DOT) perform an area-wide traffic study, from Myrtle to Cooper Avenues, and from 60th Lane to Cypress Hills Street.

Following their investigation of the area between January and June of 2022, the DOT recommended the following: that 60th Lane be converted to one-way northbound operation from Cooper Avenue to 75th Avenue, 75th Avenue to one-way eastbound operation from 60th Lane to 64th Street, 64th Street to one-way southbound operation from 75th Avenue to Cooper Avenue and 64th Place to one-way northbound operation from Cooper Avenue to Cypress Hills Street.

Eric Butkiewicz, chairman of CB5’s Transportation Committee, said that when the DOT presented their findings to the committee at a recent meeting, it was clear to them that the proposed north-south conversions are the right choice for the area.

“We didn’t find any significant impact on traffic flow, while also giving the residents what they’re looking for and seemingly reducing the risk of sideswipes and other accidents,” he said.

Butkiewicz noted that there was more debate among the committee in regard to the conversion of 75th Avenue to one-way eastbound operation from 60th Lane to 64th Street. The conversion of this street was not included in the initial petition started by locals, rather, was added by the DOT.

The committee was informed by the DOT that around 250 cars per hour, at peak hours in the morning, travel westbound on 75th Avenue. Therefore, if the street were to be converted to one-way eastbound traffic, those 250 cars would be rerouted to Cooper Avenue.

“This raised concerns in the committee that by routing 250 cars per hour to an already congested Cooper Avenue could pose severe problems, because Cooper Avenue is incredibly narrow also,” Butkiewicz said. “The concern is that we’re just going to take this problem, put it somewhere else and still be stuck with the same problem.”

As a result of the discussion, the vote was a six-to-six split for the conversion. Although it did not pass, Butkiewicz said the committee members who voted against the conversion of 75th Avenue committed to keeping a close eye on it going forward, recognizing the issues it faces.

On Nov. 9, CB5 held their monthly public meeting, where the whole board voted on the proposed north-south street conversions that were voted unanimously in favor by the Transportation Committee.

The board voted unanimously in favor of the north-south conversions with the acknowledgement that they will not recommend the eastbound conversion at this time, but will continue to monitor 75th Avenue and make changes if need be.

The Transportation Committee will pen a letter to the DOT with their decision, and it is ultimately up to them to take action and implement the conversion.

The DOT informed them that it could be a year-long process to put up the signs that would make these proposed streets one-way.

Homeless Committee formed in wake of antics

‘Listen, learn, react,’ CB5 says

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

Cooper Rapids Rehousing Center is a 200-bed men’s homeless shelter in Glendale.

In response to the stark impact Cooper Rapid Rehousing Center has had on Glendale and its surrounding residential neighborhoods, Queens Community Board 5 has formed a committee for homeless services.

At the board’s Executive Committee meeting on Nov. 2, they decided the new committee will take an active role in the community, meaning they plan to conduct fact finding inquiries, address concerns of residents, identify problems and find adequate solutions to those problems in collaboration with relevant government agencies and service providers.

At CB5’s monthly public meeting in October, it was noted that over one thousand 911 calls were made from the shelter since it opened in 2020. The shelter, located at 78-16 Cooper Avenue, next to Artistic Stitch, has a population of about 180 men.

Kathy Masi, a Glendale resident and regular attendee of Community Advisory Board meetings held by Westhab, the shelter’s provider, said that the misuse of 911 is draining the already depleted services needed by the community.

She added that she and other community members have tried to form a civil working relationship with Westhab, which was the case for a while — until things took a turn for the worse.

“We spent two years, maybe more, going from a toxic to a nontoxic relationship where these meetings were running beautifully and everything was going nicely, only to find out how much we were being lied to,” Masi said. “It was out of control.”

According to Masi, a local reporter was asked to leave the meeting by Westhab when it took place.

Westhab is required to do community outreach monthly by way of a community advisory board as per their contract with the city — and the provider selects who participates on it.

In late September, CBS News did an exclusive interview with a man residing at Cooper Rapid Rehousing Center at the time, who came forward with what occurs behind closed doors.

The former shelter resident, who remained anonymous, claimed that he had been assaulted on numerous occasions, that both drug use and drug dealing occur inside the shelter and that residents engage in sexual acts in public, behind the shelter.

The man reached out to Councilman Robert Holden for assistance, and has since been moved to another location.

It was reported by CBS News that the assaults against him were under investigation by the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force — being he identifies as queer.

“From the moment this shelter was forced on our community by [former] Mayor de Blasio despite being in a non-sensical location, Westhab has been dishonest and incompetent. What goes on at this shelter is harmful to our community and to the shelter residents themselves,” Holden said.

Holden also addressed the danger he believes the shelter imposes on children in the community especially, by visiting one of the neighboring schools, PS/IS 87.

In a tweet, Holden revealed that he’d heard from parents and neighbors that a homeless individual had been harassing students of the school, along with residents.

In June, two women were assaulted on Myrtle Avenue in Glendale by a resident of the homeless shelter at the time. The perpetrator was a resident at the shelter for ten days following the assaults, and Westhab and the 104th Precinct never got together to catch him.

“We now have evidence of violence, drug abuse and a lack of supervision, including incidents exposed by a young resident of the shelter who came forward to speak to my staff and with CBS 2’s Dave Carlin,” Holden continued. “The city should not renew Westhab’s contract.”

According to the committee’s tentative mission, the Homeless Services Committee will meet quarterly at a minimum and present a report at the board’s monthly meeting.

In addition, nonmembers of CB5 who have an interest in the shelter will be permitted to be on the committee.

“We want the community to know that Community Board 5 is serious about homelessness,” said Walter Sanchez, first vice-chair of CB5.

“If we have a committee in place, even if they don’t meet too often, but they’re educated, I think it would be of great value to the community,” he continued. “It’s important to educate people. We need to listen, learn and react.”

Westhab did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

Editor’s note: Walter Sanchez is the publisher of this news organization. His recent remarks were made in his capacity while chairing the executive committee meeting on Nov. 2.

Lee Zeldin visits Glendale, gubernatorial candidate hones in on tough-on-crime approach

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

Republican challenger Rep. Lee Zeldin (at mic) was met with support from local business owners, including Karamjit Dhaliwal (to his left) and leaders Councilman Robert Holden (to his right) and Mike Conigliaro, who hopes to win AD28 (left of Dhaliwal).

Following last Tuesday night’s heated gubernatorial debate, Republican candidate Rep. Lee Zeldin of Long Island took to the streets of Glendale to further discuss top issues residents face both locally and statewide.

The press conference was held at the Mobil gas station located at 71-05 Myrtle Avenue, across from Glendale Diner — where Zeldin was met with support from local residents, business owners and elected officials, as well as concerns about the current state of the city.

Honing in on his tough-on-crime campaign approach, Zeldin reflected on the debate held the night before, where he reiterated that he would declare a crime emergency and suspend cashless bail if elected.

He accused Gov. Kathy Hochul of disregarding the surge in crime in New York, and not discussing “locking up anyone committing any crimes” during the debate.

Zeldin interpreted Hochul’s response of, “Anyone who commits a crime under our laws, especially with the change we made to bail, has consequences. I don’t know why that’s so important to you,” as a deflection and indication that she does not communicate with communities affected by crime.

She doesn’t understand why it’s so important to me? That proves that she isn’t in touch with the people. It proves that she does not represent the people, because it should be first and foremost in her mind,” he said at the press conference.

“If she wants to represent New Yorkers, if she cares about New Yorkers, she would have her finger on the pulse and she wouldn’t have to make that point. She wouldn’t even be thinking it in her head, let alone actually saying it out loud.”

Bryan Lesswing, Hochul’s senior adviser, told the Queens Ledger that the comment in question was made in response to Zeldin’s accusation that she had not previously mentioned anything about crime in the debate, which she did on five separate occasions.

He said her response meant that she wasn’t sure why it was “so important” to him that she reiterate the point a sixth time.

“It’s no surprise that Lee Zeldin and his far-right allies are manipulating and lying about Governor Hochul’s comments, Zeldin himself has no serious plans to tackle crime and instead wants to bring more guns into our communities,” Hochul’s campaign spokesperson, Jerrel Harvey, said in a statement.

Karamjit Dhaliwal, who owns the gas station and the shops located on the property where the press conference was held, expressed his fears about increased crime that affects his business and employees.

Dhaliwal expressed his support of Zeldin for governor, and opened up about how his establishment is affected by increased crimw.

He said that while he’s a Democrat himself, he feels the need to cross party lines for this election.

We have a big problem with the crimes. We are getting robbed every week…They’re coming to steal stuff from our gas station, beating my employees, robbing at nighttime, jumping behind the counters, and it’s a danger,” Dhaliwal said.

He argued that bail reform should be repealed and that the NYPD does hard work, but their “hands are tied.”

During the press conference, an unknown individual who was getting gas started a verbal altercation with two of the gas station’s employees, shouting obscenities.

The individual had their car radio set to a high volume while the event was in progress, when the employees asked them to turn it down.

In fear it would get violent, the two Guardian Angels in attendance approached the situation.

The reality of this moment, while we’re here for a press conference, this is with security here, this is with cameras here, this is with a whole lot of people here…You see how people are emboldened to challenge employees of this gas station, ready for physical confrontation right here,” Zeldin said.

“Three weeks ago, one of [Dhaliwal’s] employees was assaulted right here where we’re having this press conference. You almost witnessed something play out right here in front of all the cameras just now, despite security, despite all of us and despite all of you.”

Zeldin holds firm to his beliefs that members of law enforcement should be supported, that judges should have discretion and that he would remove Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg from office on his first day if elected, accusing him of failing to enforce the law.

Although the state’s constitution provides a mechanism for removing certain public officials, such as DAs, the motion has little historical precedent.

Beyond crime, Zeldin feels New Yorkers should be “greatly concerned” with other issues, such as the large performance gap that exists with students in the state compared to the national average, as shown by the State Test scores that were released this week.

“We’re seeing as a result of the pandemic and lockdown policies, the impact on our kids. Their generation has suffered the most of all generations…our kids don’t even have a vote,” Zeldin said.

He brought up the point that New York spends two and a half times more per pupil than in Florida and Mississippi, for example — but students in those other states performed better on standardized tests.

Additionally, Zeldin would lift the cap on charter schools, promote advanced academics and reward students for good merit rather than on a lottery basis.

Hochul also said she would lift the cap on charter schools during the debate.

“We have to raise our game as it relates to education. We have to challenge our kids to go further. We need to achieve better outcomes,” he continued.

He also emphasized the importance of school safety, in regard to threats students face along with gun violence: other physical violence, bullying and drugs.

Zeldin feels confident that he’ll be able to work in concert with Mayor Eric Adams, as they share similar views on judges having discretion and amending Raise the Age, which is 2017 New York State legislation that raised the age of criminal responsibility to 18 years.

Early this year, Adams previously said prosecutors should be permitted to charge 16 and 17-year-old defendants caught with a gun as adults.

When asked about immigration and the migrant crisis New York City is facing, Zeldin said that he would call on President Joe Biden and advocate for completing the construction of the border wall, ending catch and release and enforcing the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), or the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

He also does not support giving non-citizens the right to vote.

“We should support our customs and border patrol agents, and we shouldn’t be incentivizing and rewarding illegal activity,” he said. “It’s my opinion that we should be doing more to secure our Southern border.”

Zeldin emphasized that if elected, he would proudly work with anyone, regardless of political affiliation or differing views on certain topics. 

Republicans, Democrats and Independents need to look at this opportunity less than two weeks away as their opportunity as New Yorkers to save New York City and save New York State. They have an opportunity to restore balance and common sense up in Albany. Everything has gone too far left up in Albany,” he said.

“There are a lot of common sense Democrats…And there are a lot of other Democrats out there who proudly view themselves as independent-minded. They’re New Yorkers first and foremost. They care about rising crime and skyrocketing costs. They care about being able to feed their family and heat their home. They care about soaring crime and DAs who release violent criminals to roam free on our streets,” he continued. “These New Yorkers…need to take control of their destiny, their family’s destiny, their community’s destiny and do their part to save our state.”

 

Matthew Fischetti contributed reporting to this article.

Contemporary classical music comes to Ridgewood with ‘Laminaria’

By Stephanie Meditz

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Laminaria combines evocative contemporary classical music with costumes and other visual elements.

With Halloween around the corner, Ridgewood’s live music scene shifts towards dark themes reminiscent of the horror genre.

This Saturday, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m., Concetta Abbate and her 10-piece chamber orchestra will perform her folk-horror epic, “Laminaria,” at Footlight Underground at the Windjammer.

Through music and vocals, Laminaria tells the story of an underwater sea witch who emerges to the surface and ascends to the sky in death, only to be pulled back into the ocean.

The musical arrangement depicts the plot with its contrast between low, ominous notes and whimsical, borderline comedic elements.

“I always have a hard time explaining my genre,” Abbate said. “I think our ensemble is just covering all ends of the spectrum, music-wise. There are moments that sound a little more like a traditional cinematic orchestral score, and then there are parts of it that sound like you’re at a free improvisation show, and then there are parts of it like you’re listening to a rock band.”

Abbate, a classical violinist and vocalist, will be accompanied by an orchestra consisting of woodwind, string, brass and percussion sections.

The ten piece chamber orchestra consists of woodwind, string, brass and percussion sections.

Laminaria’s vocals and simplistic lyrics were inspired by medieval Gregorian chants and closely resemble incantations.

The orchestra also includes an array of homemade instruments played by Skip La Plante that create haunting sound effects without the use of technology.

“It’s really dipping into a lot of musical worlds and soundscapes,” Abbate said. “I think that’s what makes it so exciting because it’s really unexpected.”

Laminaria will be accompanied by modern dancers from Wendy Osserman Dance Company in Manhattan later this month. Photo by Alice Teeple.

The word laminaria means “kelp” in Latin, which is used to induce labor.

Kelp is also notorious for the destruction of boats and is known in New Zealand’s folklore as “the devil’s apron,” which is the title of Laminaria’s first movement.

“For me, this sea witch is trying to emerge and is kind of stuck in this crux between living and not living,” Abbate said. “I think there are also more tangible messages in the piece about access to healthcare and our mental health systems being so broken. So I think that this metaphor of this substance that is used to induce a change in life, whether it be birth or death, really encapsulated a lot of the message of the piece.”

Abbate was inspired to compose Laminaria during the COVID-19 pandemic when she watched many horror movies in quarantine.

“I started to question why I was so interested in horror movies and I realized that it’s a cathartic way to process traumatic events,” she said. “ And a lot of the time, the monster in the movie represents the trauma in itself, and it’s the physical embodiment of whatever real, terrifying thing is happening in your life.”

Abbate drew upon her own experiences of witnessing loved ones struggle with mental health issues and the healthcare system’s inability to help them.

“It literally looked like demon possession to me because when you’re a child, you don’t know the medical terminology for things,” she said. “And so I wanted to, in this piece, explore that childlike understanding.”

“I think the piece can be taken on many levels,” she continued. “You can come in and watch it and it could just be this silly, fun horror thing. Or if you wanted to seek out the deeper, cathartic meaning in it, if that feels relevant to the audience, I think that that part of it is also there.”

A native New Yorker, Abbate holds a master’s degree in music education from Columbia University.

She grew up on Long Island and has lived in multiple boroughs, but she now resides in Glendale.

“[The Windjammer] is just such a great local spot to get people in the neighborhood to know about the work,” she said. “I think it’ll be really fun at Windjammer.”

Tickets are available on a sliding scale starting at $10 at https://withfriends.co/event/15003568/laminaria or $12 at the door on the night of the performance.

After Laminaria’s Oct. 15 performance at the Windjammer, Abbate will perform the piece on Oct. 21 and 22 at Theater For The New City in Manhattan, accompanied by a modern dance routine choreographed by Wendy Osserman.

“When we did the first show, people were crying at the end of it. It’s a very moving experience to come and see this piece.”

Free concert and car show attract crowds at Atlas Park

By Stephanie Meditz

[email protected]

White Wedding, mostly an ‘80s cover band, treated Atlas Park to their ‘90s set.

On Tuesday, The Shops at Atlas Park took the Glendale community back in time with a ‘90s concert and classic car show.

While cover band “White Wedding” performed hits from back in the day in the penultimate show of Atlas Park’s Concerts on the Green series, volunteers from the East Coast Car Association displayed their vintage vehicles.

Although White Wedding is mostly an ‘80s cover band, the evening’s setlist consisted of ‘90s sensations, including Britney Spears, The Spice Girls, Sublime and Alanis Morissette.

The band also dressed for the occasion, decked out in flannel shirts and Dr. Martens boots.

Emily McNamara belted all the ‘90s girl power anthems.

Although the members of White Wedding come from different states on the east coast, they frequently perform in New York.

White Wedding was voted “Best Cover Band in the Boro” of Queens for the third year in a row.

“We play in Queens, we play New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, all around the tri-state area,” David Artiaga, front vocalist of White Wedding, said.

In July, the band performed their ‘80s set at Juniper Valley Park.

Artiaga, whose voice effortlessly resembled those of numerous ‘90s icons, has never formally studied music.

“I was just born with talent,” he joked. “Never had a lesson in my life, and it just seemed to work out.”

Emily McNamara, also a front vocalist for White Wedding, has been involved in theater for most of her life.

“It’s a good group. Everyone brings a good piece,” Artiaga said.

White Wedding plays private parties, corporate events and weddings throughout the tri-state area.

For bookings, email [email protected] or visit www.whiteweddingband.com.

The band is also on Instagram (@whiteweddingband) and Twitter (@whitewedding80s).

While the ‘90s music played, the East Coast Car Association held a classic car show in the parking lot at Atlas Park.

Harold Mecabe promotes the East Coast Car Association’s 24th annual toy drive in November.

Established in 1999 by Eddie Walter, the East Coast Car Association hosts car shows and cruise nights to raise money for St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital in Bayside.

Harold Mecabe, master of ceremony, has been involved with the club for 22 years.

After Walter passed away in 2007, he and other members unanimously decided to continue to support St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital to honor Walter’s legacy.

“We have a handful of members in the club, and all the people here support us,” Mecabe said. “They know what we do and they help us. Without those people, we would actually be nothing…And we will continue doing what we’re doing as long as we possibly can.”

In November, the club will host its 24th annual toy run.

“We will leave from the Forest Park bandshell area. The NYPD will shut down the Jackie Robinson Highway, the Grand Central Parkway and the Clearview Expressway to give us direct access to St. Mary’s Hospital,” Mecabe said. “At that time, we will present whatever proceeds that we collect during the course of the year to St. Mary’s.”

The East Coast Car Association has raised over $250,000 and $40,000 worth of toys since it was founded.

The club has hosted two car shows at Atlas Park this summer, both of which occurred on the same night as a concert.

Among the classic cars displayed was a 1979 Buick Riviera.

“It was just coordinated that way, which is good because it brings out more people,” Mecabe said.

To join or donate to the East Coast Car Association, visit their website at https://eccatoysfortots.org.

The Shops at Atlas Park has hosted its annual Concerts on the Green series since 2013.

General manager Peter DeLucia has found that the concerts not only show people all that Atlas Park has to offer, but also provide a fun, free night out for the neighborhood.

“It’s just a way to engage the community,” he said. “Have them come out, see what we’ve got going on at Atlas Park, like the roller skating rink and some of the new stores.”

The concert, as well as other concerts and movie nights at Atlas Park, was sponsored by Main Street Radiology.

Surgey Santiago, a marketing agent from Main Street Radiology, said that these events are great opportunities to inform the community about the essential services offered, such as X-rays, ultrasounds and MRIs.

“Since we sponsor The Shops at Atlas Park, we’ll give knowledge about the facility and what we do,” she said. “We just want to attract the neighborhood, let them know that we’re here.”

Main Street Radiology recently opened a fifth location on Cooper Avenue in Glendale, right down the street from Atlas Park.

Knights of Columbus hosts drive for Kentucky floods

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

Bill Kuil, Don Gander, Ken Engesser, Aiden O’Callaghan, Gerry O’Callaghan, Sal Laurenzano helped collect items for the catastrophic floods in Kentucky.

Although Kentucky is hundreds of miles away from New York City, distance didn’t stop local Knights of Columbus councils from helping folks in need.

The Knights of Columbus of Msgr. Sherman Council No. 5103 in Glendale organized a drive to help the victims of the catastrophic floods in Kentucky.

At the end of July, eastern Kentucky as well as parts of Missouri, Illinois, Virginia, West Virginia and the Las Vegas Valley experienced severe floods over a week-long span.

At least 39 people died as a result of the flooding in Kentucky, and countless people lost their homes and all their belongings.

In an effort to provide relief, the Knights of Columbus collected items in high demand, such as nonperishable food, cleaning supplies, water jugs and hand sanitizer.

The Knights of Columbus will make the trip down to Kentucky on Tuesday.

They held a series of drop-offs at the Council this week and the one prior, and will load up a truck to transport the items to Kentucky themselves, making the 11-hour drive next Tuesday.

The Council received close to $10,000 between cash and nonperishable supplies for the people that need support from the flooding.

A total of four trucks among Council No. 5103 and other councils across Queens and Brooklyn will combine their donations and drop them off to a Knights of Columbus connection they’ve made in Kentucky.

They also received donations from parishioners of Sacred Heart of Glendale.

Past Grand Knight Gerry O’Callaghan said that this is not the first time the Knights of Columbus have helped their friends across state lines, in fact, he participated in relief efforts for New Bern, N.C. when the city experienced severe floods.

“When we had Hurricane Ida, the people we helped out in New Bern and in Texas immediately called up and said, ‘What do you guys need?’ For me, it was a chance to give back because when we needed help as a community in New York, they came to help us,” he said.

Other members of the council simply feel it is their duty and calling to help people in need.

“When asked why we’re doing this, I refer to the watch words of the Knights of Columbus, ‘If not us, then who?’ That’s why everybody gets so involved,” said Deputy Grand Knight Sal Laurenzano.

Locals take control of their health

Last weekend, men ages 45 and up had the opportunity to take control of their health and get tested for prostate cancer.

On July 24, Mount Sinai’s Robert F. Smith Prostate Cancer Screening Mobile Unit was stationed at The Shops at Atlas Park, located at 8000 Cooper Avenue in Glendale.

Mount Sinai partnered with NYS Senator Joseph Addabbo to bring the hospital’s free PSA blood tests into the community.

This free screening was available to men who have never been previously diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer, whether or not they have health insurance.

“As men age it is vitally important that they take care of their prostate health through annual exams because if something is wrong, it is essential to catch prostate cancer early,” Addabbo said.

“Prostate cancer is one of the deadliest cancers in the U.S. and early detection is key to combating this illness. After the pandemic our previous provider of prostate cancer screenings went out of business so it took us some time to bring this service back to the community,” he continued. “I want to thank Mount Sinai and Atlas Park for their partnership in this event and for working with my team to set up this important free health screening for men across the district.”

Women will also have the chance to advocate for their health, through a free Mammogram Screening service in Maspeth.

On Wednesday, August 3, the American-Italian Cancer Foundation will have their Mammogram Bus located outside of the Maspeth Federal Savings Bank branch located at 56-18 69th Street, in Maspeth from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to provide free mammogram screenings to women who register for the event through Addabbo’s office.

In order to be eligible for the clinical breast exam, women must be between 40 and 79 years old with health insurance, or between 50 and 79 years old without health insurance.

They must currently live in New York City, and have not had a mammogram in the last 12 months.

Uninsured patients are welcome, there are no co-payments, and all deductibles are waived for this service.

Although registration is preferred, walk-ins will be accommodated on a limited basis.

Addabbo encourages residents to call his office at (718) 738-1111 or the American-Italian Cancer Foundation at 1-877-628-9090 to secure their appointment.

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