Kew Gardens Community Day (2007)

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The Kew Gardens Improvement Association held its second annual Kew Gardens Spring Into Summer Community Day on Sunday, June 10th.

The second annual Kew Gardens Spring into Summer Community Day held Sunday, June 10. drew large crowds to its main venues, Metropolitan Avenue in front of Commerce Bank, the LIRR Station parking lot and the Kew Gardens Cinemas park, both located on Austin Street.

At Maple Grove Cemetery on Kew Gardens Road, where performers played classical music in a verdant setting, children were treated to art lessons and opportunities to draw, paint and sculpt. Friends of Maple Grove Cemetery, a private group, was on hand with literature and information on the historic cemetery.

The various events were all sponsored by the Kew Gardens Improvement Association, supported by the Kew Gardens Civic Association and the Kew Gardens Council for Recreation and the Arts.

The day's activities began at 11 a.m. as dog lovers began assembling around a red carpet stretched along the sidewalk in front of Commerce Bank where a "pooch parade" sponsored by the Bank started at noon. A panel of judges awarded prizes in three categories: "Best Dressed, Most Attitude, and Most Athletic."

Jay Laraque of Commerce Bank was the Master of Ceremonies. The manager of the Bank's Kew Gardens branch, Donald Stevens, said 55 dogs walked the red carpet and an estimated 300 onlookers watched the parade. First prize went to Rocco, a beagle, whose owner, Joe Carollo, dressed him in a New York Yankees outfit.

There were plenty of breeds represented, including beagles, English setters, poodles, Chihuahuas, Italian greyhounds, Pomeranians, and Labradors, to name some. Except for an occasional snarl and pounce, most of the dogs seemed to get along. The tiniest was Munchie, a Malchi (a cross between a Chihuahua and a Maltese Hybrid) that its owner, Lourdes Lebron, carried in a pouch slung around her neck. The largest was a huge beagle named Kaizer.

Commerce Bank also offered free sketches of children and pets by sketch artist Rick Bleier, and free ice cream. The New York City Parks Department had games and hula hoops for the kids. Dog owners could also get advice on grooming and medications.

At the LIRR Station parking lot, painters, potters, puppet makers and other artists displayed and sold their work, kids could get their faces painted, and the American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Museum, housed in a van, was open for tours. Local merchants contributed 75 donations of various goods and services which were raffled off.

A table manned by Sylvia Hack, President of the Kew Gardens Improvement Association, and by Betty Francullo and Renee Levine of the Kew Gardens Civic Association welcomed visitors with literature and information. Enjoying the day was Barry Lewis, a historian, whose highly regarded documentaries with actor David Hartman on various city neighborhoods are frequently presented on PBS Channel Thirteen/WNET New York. Mr. Lewis is a Kew Gardens resident.

New York Fire Safety officials handed out hundreds of replacement batteries for fire and smoke alarm systems, along with literature. Visitors could munch on a variety of foods including moderately priced Indian dishes on Austin Street, and popcorn freshly made by KGIA's Andrea Crawford, who was recently elected chair of Community Board 9.

The sounds of music floated around the community throughout the day with recorded music at Commerce Bank, live popular music and dancing at the Austin Street park, and classical music played at Maple Grove Cemetery by Bill Wisnewski, Koaki Shinkai, and Patricia Blackman Dunn, among others.

"Our vision was to create a day that would celebrate our wonderful community and that would also support our local merchants," said Carol Lacks of the KGIA, who was the coordinator of all the events, noting that she was very happy with its success.

"Our audience was made up of many different cultures all moving to the music of live entertainment and more smiles than we could count," she said.

Earlier Articles:
  •   A Parking Lot Becomes a Flea Market
  •   A Touch of Soho on Austin Street
  •   Kew Gardens Merchants - The Bliss Café
  •   Kew Gardens Lights Up for the Holidays
  •   Queens Borough Hall Garage in Kew Gardens
  •   The House on 116th Street
  •   New Development in Kew Gardens
  •   Autumn Scenes in Kew Gardens
  •   Lantern Festival at Maple Grove Cemetery
  •   They Lift Up their Voices Every Friday