19-year-old fatally shot on Metropolitan Ave.

 

This car belongs to a witness. Photo: Anthony Deluca

By Oona Milliken | [email protected]

A 19-year old male was shot dead on 79-45 Metropolitan Ave. in the Middle Village on Sunday, July 23 at around 3:30 a.m.

The man, who suffered a gunshot wound to the torso, was found by emergency medical services in a vehicle on the property and was later pronounced deceased at Elmhurst Hospital. A 21-year old who was also involved in the incident was transported to the Brookdale University Hospital with a gunshot wound to the arm but remains in stable condition.

Anthony Deluca, a resident in a building near where the incident took place and a witness to the shooting, said he heard two rounds of shots as he was dozing off on Sunday morning, and looked out the window to see a car pulling away from the scene and a car parked in the middle of the street with the driver side door open.

“I heard boom boom boom boom, and then another burst of gunfire. I went down on my kitchen floor and then I called 911,” Deluca said. “I could see that a little bit of the driver side door was open, and I told the 911 operator, ‘The door’s open, there’s no movement,’ I said, ‘He’s got to be hurt.’”

The crime scene on Metropolitan Ave. Photo: Anthony Deluca

According to Deluca, there were 50 rounds of ammunition collected by police officers from the scene of the crime on Sunday, several of which hit his own personal vehicle. Deluca said his car has bullet holes through his back windshield that shattered a side window and hit the front steering wheel.

A Middle Village business owner who did not want their name to be shared said the incident is unfortunate but thinks that the neighborhood still remains safe.

“It’s not great for the area, I can tell you that much. It’s just a shame. I think that these were people not from this area, and they created a really bad environment for people,” the business owner said. “I think the neighborhood is still safe, you know, this has never happened before.”

No arrests have been made and the investigation remains ongoing, according to spokespeople from the NYPD.

311 Launches Portal to Report Obscured License Plates

Photo Credit: @placardabuse on Twitter

By Iryna Shkurhan[email protected] 

New Yorkers can now report delinquent drivers for obscuring their license plates through a simple 311 online portal. 

More and more drivers are modifying their license plates with a variety of tactics to avoid getting flagged by speeding cameras or paying tolls across the city. Some evasive drivers purchase a transparent cover on Amazon for less than $20 that reflects the camera’s flash to prevent recognition. While others resort to bending their plates, scratching off segments, spraying chemicals or even using temporary paper plates illegally. 

The new measure was unveiled following Councilmember Robert Holden’s letter to NYC’s Chief Technology Officer, Matthew Frasier, urging him to take action against the issue. Frasier coordinates tech related projects across the city in an effort to democratize technology.

Screenshot from the new 311 portal.

Previously CM Holden, who sits on the Committee of Transportation, sponsored a bill to prohibit the sale or distribution of materials that obscure or distort plates. Enacted by the council this past January, the first penalty for violations is $300 while subsequent ones would amount to $500. 

“The financial implications of this problem are significant as well. The State is losing considerable money on tolls due to obscured license plates, and the city is losing revenue from red light and speed cameras,” penned Holden to Frasier in a letter dated February 23, 2023. “In addition to the financial impact, the safety of our citizens is at risk. Using obscured license plates makes identifying and prosecuting individuals who commit crimes challenging.”

A report from THE CITY found that drivers modifying their plates to evade personal costs has cost the city up to $75 million in possible fines for license plates that were damaged, missing or obscured. Since the pandemic, the problem has only gotten worse with a significant rise in speed cameras unable to read license plates due to obstruction.  

In addition to lost funding, safety advocates say that these tactics embolden more reckless driving and that can put others on the road at risk. Others believe that drivers may be resorting to these measures due to a higher cost of living, especially with car related expenses, and are feeling pinched by the associated costs of gas, tolls and parking. 

Data obtained by THE CITY showed that from January 2016 to March 2020, approximately one percent of camera enforcement infractions showed up unreadable. But in December 2021, the number of vehicles that could not be ticketed jumped to four percent indicating a rise in plate obstruction. 

New York State’s Vehicle and Traffic Law states, “Number plates shall be kept clean and in a condition so as to be easily readable and shall not be covered by glass or any plastic material or substance that conceals or obscures such number plates or that distorts a recorded or photographic image of such number plates.” A violation can result in a fine ranging from $50 to $300.

Congresswoman Grace Meng recently shared that she was impacted by this tactic when a speeding car with modified characters was caught by a camera in Howard Beach and appeared to match her license plate.

“Nice try. This ain’t my car and the license plate clearly shows someone altered with the plate’s characters. See you in traffic court!” wrote Meng on her campaign Twitter account alongside pictures of the speeding violation ticket she received in the mail.

“We must prioritize tackling the persistent problem of obscured or tampered license plates,” said Council Member Holden in a press release. “Implementing a streamlined 311 reporting function empowers New Yorkers to swiftly alert law enforcement of such violations through a few simple taps on their smartphones. This responsive approach exemplifies the government’s commitment to addressing the concerns of its citizens.”

Once in the portal, reporters can describe the problem with a maximum of 2000 characters and attach up to three images showing evidence of license plate obstruction. Those reporting can also submit their own contact information to receive updates, but it is not required to identify yourself. 

To report a violation, you can visit the 311 portal

‘Matchmaking’ Fair Connects Schools with STEM in District 24

The team at NYC Stem Network.

By Ariel Pacheco | [email protected]

To provide students in Pre-K-8 with more opportunities in STEM, Community School District 24 held a matchmaking STEM provider fair on Friday, June 9, where representatives from schools were able to connect with STEM providers to lay the groundwork for programs beginning in September of 2023.  

Although the fair was scheduled to be held at PS/IS 128 in Middle Village, it quickly shifted to taking place virtually due to poor air quality in the New York City area. Despite the last-minute shift, about 100 participants were still in attendance.

District 24 covers Middle Village, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Glendale, Elmhurst and Corona.

Schools will be allowed to apply for financial assistance to bring and sustain these programs into their curriculum. The fair was hosted by NYC STEM Education Network in partnership with ExpandED Schools and Community School District 24. There is a total of $25,000 available in funding from ExpandED schools with awards capped at $5,000 per school. 

“STEM education really is just a window into the world,” said Ellen Darensbourg, the Grants Manager and STEM Support for Community School District 24, during the fair. “It really gives our kids a leg up into all the possibilities that are out there for them and it helps make what they learn everyday real and applicable.” 

Emma Banay, the Senior Director of STEM at ExpandED Schools, estimates that they should be able to assist about five to ten schools with the funding allocated to the school district. 

“There’s a real focus on creating high-quality engaging STEM experiences and making sure there is access and equity for those who have been historically excluded,” said Banay. “We want to engage students in a creative, critical thinking way so that they can express who they are and who they want to become.” 

Representatives from schools across the district were able to get detailed overviews from nearly 20 STEM providers in attendance. It was a forum for discussion and the first step towards partnerships between schools and STEM providers. 

Planning for the fair had been ongoing since early March when an initial “needs assessment” was conducted. The needs assessment entailed a survey created in tandem with District 24’s planning team to see what schools were looking for from STEM programs and gave them a setting to have their voices heard. 

“The survey was distributed to teachers and principals across the district to get a better feel for what they were looking for and a better understanding of what was going on in the district,” said Banay. 

Through this needs assessment, the coalition of STEM organizations learned that District 24 needed programming that supported multilingual learners, students with disabilities, and mixed-ability age groups. They also learned that there was a need for in-class programs, field trip locations and programming geared toward professional development. 

City Councilmember Julie Won, who represents District 26 in Queens, was in attendance and spoke about her own personal experience working in tech and how it helped lead her to where she is now. Won worked at IBM for close to a decade in various roles prior to becoming a councilwoman.

“It is so important that our schools have these programs and that our students are getting exposure from early on,” said Won. “I am grateful that everyone is here to make sure that we’re connecting our children to the most holistic education possible.” 

Similar fairs will be held for Community School District 4 in Harlem in August and Community School District 9 in the Bronx in November. 

Weed Dispensary Planned For Middle Village

The site of the proposed location on Metropolitan Ave. in Middle Village.

By Alicia Venter | [email protected]

An application is set to be filed for a legal cannabis dispensary at 74-03 Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village, Queens Community Board 5 announced in a press release.

The community board was notified that the entity, The Cannabis Place, intends to file an application for a cannabis dispensary with the N.Y. State Office of Cannabis Management.

A public hearing is set for during Community Board 5’s upcoming monthly meeting on Wednesday, June 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria of Christ the King High School (68-02 Metropolitan Avenue, Middle Village).

There is currently one in-person legal cannabis dispensary in Queens as of publication: Good Grades, LLC in Jamaica. In total, there are nine brick-and-mortar legal dispensaries across the five boroughs, and three temporary delivery locations.

State Senator Joe Addabbo, who represents parts of Rego Park, Forest Hills, Middle Village, Richmond Hill and Woodhaven, is looking into the issue, according to his office, and will have a representative at the community board meeting.

Local councilman Robert Holden declined to comment by press time.

Other issues on the monthly meeting agenda include the Proposed City of Yes Carbon Neutrality Citywide Zoning Text Amendment, which states that the New York City Department of City Planning seeks to modernize the city’s Zoning Resolution.

It aims to help the city reach its goal of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 through removing obstacles for the installation of green technology, such as supporting electric vehicles, according to the department’s website.

For more information or to register to speak at the monthly meeting, call the board’s office at 718-366-1834 or email at [email protected]. Speakers must register prior to the meeting’s start, and are allotted two to three minutes, depending on the number of speakers.

The meeting will be livestreamed via YouTube and can be found following the meeting on the community board’s website.

Maggie’s Little Theater to open Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap’

By Stephanie Meditz

[email protected]

Rehearsals for The Mousetrap began in November and took place both in-person and on Zoom.

On Feb. 11, Maggie’s Little Theater in Middle Village will open the curtains on its production of Agatha Christie’s 1952 murder mystery, “The Mousetrap.”

The whodunit follows Mollie and Giles as they open their guest house for the first time, only to find themselves snowed in with a murderer. 

Producer and founding member of Maggie’s Little Theater, Dolores Voyer, said that several of the show’s rehearsals took place on Zoom to protect the cast from COVID-19.

“We rehearsed in person most of the time, but when we started this show, our director [Thom Harmon] suggested…to have certain rehearsals not in person. Things that don’t need to be in person, individual work between the director and an actor…don’t need to be on the stage,” she said. “We wanted to keep everybody as safe as possible…when we’re in the theater on the stage, the actors are free to and often do wear masks.” 

This past summer, Maggie’s Little Theater put on a production of “Kiss Me, Kate,” its first performance since before the pandemic. 

Last summer, Maggie’s Little Theater put on its first performance since before the pandemic, Kiss Me, Kate.

“I didn’t realize during the pandemic how much I missed it until we started again, and I think that a lot of people feel that way,” Voyer said. “We kind of got used to being in our own little bubbles, and now that we’re able to safely come out and enjoy live theater again, it’s such a great feeling to be able to collaborate with people and to bring something to the audience.” 

Voyer is especially grateful for the cast of The Mousetrap and their motivation to produce quality work for the audience. 

“This cast is wonderful. We are really lucky to have a couple of longtime veterans of community theater in Queens as well as several people who are new to Maggie’s Little Theater…they’re very dedicated, they’re very interested in the process,” Voyer said. “The amount of chemistry between the actors has really developed so nicely.” 

Cast members who are recurring Maggie’s Little Theater actors include Bernard Bosio, Sarah Nowik and Mark York.

Although Maggie’s Little Theater typically produces more musicals than straight plays, it is primarily interested in producing shows that the audience would like to see. 

Maggie’s Little Theater’s production of Kiss Me, Kate was directed by Bill Logan and choreographed by Amanda Montoni.

“We’ve done some straight plays that are well known, some that are a little less well known,” Voyer said. “This one is kind of both well known and not, because it’s Agatha Christie but it’s a show that’s never been produced on Broadway.”

The Mousetrap has been running in London for 70 years, but it has not seen a Broadway stage in that time per Agatha Christie’s wish. 

The show’s original contract states that it could not move to Broadway or be produced as a movie until it closed in London, and it has not closed. 

“It debuted in 1952, and Agatha Christie herself thought it wouldn’t run more than a few months, but except for the pandemic, it has run continuously from 1952 until now,” Voyer said. 

Performance dates for The Mousetrap are Feb. 11, 17 and 18 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 12 and 19 at 2:30 p.m. 

Tickets are available at https://www.maggieslittletheater.org and are $20 for adults and $18 for children 11 and under and seniors over 65.

New Citi Bike stations ‘on hold’ for District 5

CB5 votes to send letter to DOT requesting input

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

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.

Middle Village student honored for selfless deed

By Stephanie Meditz

[email protected]

PS/IS 49 Principal Thomas Carty and Councilman Robert Holden recognized Zysk for his generosity.

In the spirit of the holidays, the Middle Village community honors the kindness and generosity of PS/IS 49 fifth grader Maksymilian Zysk.

While trick-or-treating on Halloween, Zysk noticed an empty candy bowl that had been raided by older children, and filled it with his own candy for others to enjoy.

He filled several empty candy bowls that night, but he and his mother, Monika Zysk, had a special encounter on their way home.

After he filled the empty candy bowl outside Tess Atannav’s home, a woman standing behind them told her own son not to take the candy.

“Max was saying, ‘Yes, I’m doing this so other kids can enjoy it and your beautiful boy can have it,’” Zysk said of her son. “This is the first year he never said, ‘Look, Mom, how many candies I have in my bag.’ He was saying, ‘Mom, look how many little acts of kindness I did today. That feels so good.’”

Later that evening, she was scrolling through Facebook and saw a post looking for a boy whose description matched her son’s Halloween costume.

“There were already 150 messages within half an hour saying, ‘You have to find that boy’…The whole community came together to actually look for Max,” she said.

Zysk contacted Atannav, who told her that two teenagers had emptied her candy bowl as soon as she left the house to take her children trick-or-treating.

“[Atannav] said they were so upset because it was not a little kid, it was teenagers who did this. And she said [Max] came just all of a sudden minutes after and filled up the whole bowl,” Zysk said.

Atannav said that two teenagers emptied her candy bowl as soon as she left the house to take her children trick-or-treating, but Max came to the rescue.

Zysk made sure her son saw the positive impact of his deed and had him read the many Facebook comments acknowledging his selflessness.

“I said, Max, in the world we live in now, those little kindnesses are so appreciated. People appreciate what you did, and that’s the way to go,” she said. “We were shocked and overwhelmed how the community reacted to this. Max just said, ‘Mom I just left a few candies. I just want other kids to enjoy Halloween too.’”

Atannav wanted to spread the word about Max’s good deeds and informed PS/IS 49 principal Thomas Carty and local Councilman Robert Holden.

After Carty recognized Max for his generosity, Holden honored him with an NYC Council citation.

“People were sending us messages that they wanted to give him some gifts and everything. But, as we always say, good words will fill his heart more than anything,” Zysk said.

“I feel like for a 10-year-old to give up candy, it’s kind of a lot, I would say. Especially on Halloween,” she continued. “He was always a good boy. He’s very thoughtful, he loves people, he loves animals…It doesn’t matter if he knows someone or not, he’s there to help. That’s who he is.”

Zysk said that her son has always been sweet and happy, and that he wants to be part of nearly every community service initiative that he hears about.

“He was always amazing, and we were very blessed with him,” she said. “We enjoy every moment and minute and second with him. He’s a joy to be around.”

As a mother, Zysk is extremely proud of Max and the young man he is becoming.

“I always tell him, always be you, and you will see everything is going to be wonderful.”

Middle Village ‘Halloween House’ spooks locals for 20 years

‘It’s a labor of love,’ Patrick ‘Halloween Guy’ Kenniff says

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

This Middle Village home has been a must-see for all Halloween lovers in the area for the last 20 years.

During Halloween season, the typically tame and tucked away 75th Street in Middle Village looks like something straight out of a horror movie.

To anyone else, that statement might be taken as an insult — but for Middle Village native Patrick Kenniff, it’s the ultimate compliment.

Kenniff, a musician who goes by the stage name of “Swan,” has been providing haunts and happiness to the community for 20 years straight — by decorating his home on the corner of 75th Street like no other.

He began sharing his extravagant display in 2003, which features decorations galore including inflatables, elaborate lights, Halloween music and sound effects, life-sized statues and even larger-than-life figures.

“I grew up with 10 brothers and sisters, so Halloween was something we always celebrated together. I started doing [the decorating] with my daughter, but now she’s a teenager and is too busy to help,” Kenniff said. “This whole thing started with a few little things here and there, and then it just got out of control and spiraled.”

Kenniff said that his decorations have accumulated over the years from a variety of well-known places, such as Home Depot and eBay — however, he’s proud to say that he made quite a few of the decorative staples himself.

This massive skeleton, just about half the size of Kenniff’s home, mans the fort.

Halloween is his favorite holiday of the year, which also played a role in motivating him to decorate his home annually.

But the largest motivating factor year after year is seeing the joy and amusement from all the local children and families — who aren’t afraid to express their appreciation.

“Every year, I change it up a bit,” Kenniff explained. “One year I wasn’t going to do the decorations, and these little kids came around and put a note in my door that said, ‘Please, Halloween guy, when are you going to put the decorations up?’”

“I knew I had to do it,” he said.

Kenniff said that the process of decorating his entire house from top to bottom takes about a week and a half to two weeks to complete; however, the process is not as tedious for him as it may seem — since he has a planned-out system.

Many of the oversized statues, some of which are half the height of the house itself, are stored in Kenniff’s garage, completely assembled year-round.

In addition, he made it known that the decorations visible outside are not all that he owns, and he has many more stored away inside his garage and basement.

“I got twice as much stored away,” he said with a laugh. “I literally have no more room for anything else.”

Every year, the house attracts over 500 trick-or-treaters — not including the countless number of adults who also stop by to take their selfies.

In fact, selfies and photography are something that Kenniff enthusiastically encourages for all who pay a visit, as seen by the The Middle Village Halloween House Facebook page intended for the community to share photos and memories.

“I have chairs set up right in front for people to sit and take pictures. I also have different toys right here that I’ve found from over the years, because I know the kids like to touch things,” he said. “It’s a little interactive.”

Guests are invited to sit down and take selfies in front of the house.

Among the spooky friends inside the interactive tent are characters from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” including Jack Skellington, Sally, Oogie Boogie and Zero the dog.

On the porch guarding his door, surely to spook his pizza delivery man, are classic Halloween villains, such as Freddie Krueger, Jason Vorhees, Pinhead and IT. Being that the original “Halloween” is Kenniff’s favorite movie, Michael Myers naturally made an appearance.

Freddie Krueger makes an appearance.

In the past, Kenniff would invite visitors into his basement, where he also put on a display.

He discontinued the feature over the past few years due to the pandemic, but still goes above and beyond to make the house special and memorable for all.

“It’s a labor of love,” he said. “During COVID, I almost didn’t do it, but realized I had to because people need something to smile about.”

(SEE VIDEO): Brutal Middle Village robbery shakes up community

66-year-old man beaten, robbed of $17K

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

Residents of Middle Village were appalled to see the shocking footage released by the 104th Precinct of a 66-year-old man being brutally beaten and robbed in broad daylight.

Last Thursday, Oct. 13 at around 1:20 p.m., the victim was walking on 71st Street toward Juniper Valley Road, when an unidentified male individual approached him from behind, shoved him to the pavement, started punching and kicking him throughout his body and dragged him across the sidewalk.

The perpetrator went on to swipe the victim’s bag that he carried, robbing him of $17,000 in cash.

Leaving him to lie on the ground, the thief then fled on foot and got inside a maroon Ford Fusion operated by a second unidentified male individual.

The car was last seen heading toward Eliot Avenue. Emergency Medical Services treated the victim on scene for minor injuries.

Before the robbery took place, the suspects were seen inside Artis Drug and Surgical Supplies located at 80-02 Eliot Avenue.

No arrests have been made, and the NYPD is still on the hunt for the robbers.

The first individual is described as having a medium complexion, medium build with short dark hair, last seen wearing a dark colored hooded jacket, multi-colored Tommy Hilfiger sweatpants, white sneakers, a blue and white North Face baseball cap and glasses.

The second individual is described as having a medium complexion, medium build, last seen wearing a dark-colored jacket, dark-colored sweatpants, gray sneakers and a blue Houston Astros baseball cap.

The 104th Precinct Civilian Observation Patrol – G-COP shared a post on their Facebook page to spread the word about the incident.

They noted the unconventional nature of the victim carrying $17,000 in cash on his person.

“I say Investigate the Person who was attacked…He knows something,” the comment read. “You are Not going to walk around in the Park with 17K in your Possession.”

Other residents, like 40-plus-year Middle Village local, Anthony Reardon, agent at Eliot Hill Realty, are losing faith in the community they once felt safe in.

“I feel the 104 Precinct does a terrific job; they have to cover a lot of territory. It’s a large area, so I have no knocks against the 104,” he said.

“Whoever did this had to have been watching him from when he was at the bank. They had to know he was carrying a large sum of money,” he continued. “I feel that we need to look out for each other as a community in these situations. If you see something, say something.”

Middle Village resident spreads good luck through jewelry

‘A little extra protection neva hurt nobody,’ says Erma Camporese

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

If New York had a personality, it would be seen in Brooklyn native and Middle Village resident, Erma Camporese.

Simultaneously blunt, yet as kind as they come, Camporese, 57, is known and loved by the local community.

Her wit, humor and textbook New York accent has earned her the title, “The Queen of Graham Avenue,” where she was born and raised.

You are likely to spot her at Anthony & Son Panini Shoppe at 433 Graham, where she frequents.

As an Italian-American, whose family comes from Sanza, she’s naturally very superstitious.

This motivated Camporese to start her own jewelry business, Creations by Erma, in which she specializes in evil eye jewelry.

“Everyone has a different symbol for the evil eye. But at the end of the day, the evil eye is the evil eye. Whether you believe in the Turkish evil eye, the Italian horn, it’s all the same meaning,” she explained.

“You’re not wishing bad, but you’re not wishing good either.”

Camporese’s jewelry spreads both good luck and positivity.

Camporese views the evil eye as a form of protection when someone wears it, leading her to make her business’ slogan: “A little extra protection neva hurt nobody.”

She emphasizes that the stylistic spelling of “never” is on purpose.

“I never use the letter ‘R’ when I talk. I used to have the word, ‘never,’ and a friend told me I had to get rid of it, because it’s not how I talk,” she said.

Camporese offers various creations in her online shop, including necklaces, bracelets, earrings, keychains, eyeglass holders, wind chimes and rosary beads.

As a small business owner based in Middle Village, Camporese is proud to have over 4,000 followers on Instagram (@creationsbyerma), and her TikTok by the same name is not far behind.

She attributes much of her online success to the help of Nicolas “Nico” Heller, better known as “New York Nico.”

The social media personality is nicknamed the “Unofficial Talent Scout of New York,” and he and Camporese quickly became close friends.

“Believe me when I tell you I’m not conceited, but I became an overnight success. [Heller] always used to joke around and tell me he wanted to make me famous, and I’d just tell him to leave me alone,” she said with a laugh.

“On Labor Day weekend last year, I let him put up a skit, where I was being serious the way I was talking to him,” she continued. “About a half an hour later, he was like, ‘Have you looked at your phone?’ When I went to get my phone, I had like 1,000 messages.”

The two continue to collaborate and upload humorous skits to social media.

Camporese’s personality shines through her social media.

In the past, Camporese participated in a New York accent challenge with Heller, as well as commercials for companies including Bumble and Vitaminwater.

“I love Erma, the Queen of Graham Avenue. She is so Brooklyn, it hurts,” Heller said.

“I love that she is embracing the fact that she has a talent and is creating content of her own. I hope to see her on the big screen one of these days.”

In addition to her online presence, Camporese strives to be present in the community at various events across Brooklyn and Queens.

This Saturday, Creations by Erma will have a pop-up stand at the St. Stan’s Fall Festival in Maspeth, where she will sell her work.

On Oct. 22, she’ll participate in the Party in Pink Breast Cancer Fundraiser at P.S. 128 in Middle Village.

Camporese said she’s very big on paying it forward, which includes spreading awareness and donating funds for cancer research to NYU cardiac research in memory of her brother, Nelson Camporese.

She’s also a member of the Maspeth Lions Club and Our Lady of the Snow Ladies Auxiliary.

Everything Camporese does, including her jewelry and online content, is in the name of “amore,” or love.

“Sometimes I like to mind my business, but my personality sells, so I’ve been told,” she said. “Allowing my life to hold protection has shown me such great opportunities. Paying it forward is a big thing for me, I view that the good we put into the world is the good we receive.”

“Protection is for everyone, and I am ecstatic to share my work.”

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