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Jazz at Maple Grove Cemetery ( 2010 )
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To the right of a sign that reads FUNERAL PROCESSIONS STOP HERE, rows of chairs welcomed visitors the other evening --- not to a funeral but to a rollicking jazz concert held on the great lawn outside the visitors' center at Maple Grove Cemetery on Kew Gardens Road.

Maple Grove is part of a growing trend among cemeteries around the country to welcome the public with events that demonstrate they can offer the living much more than grieving for the dead. Concerts, walking tours, art exhibits, children's programs, and even bar- and bat-mitzvahs, weddings and fireworks are just a few of the ideas.

At Maple Grove, a 65-acre, 135-year-old non-sectarian cemetery that was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004, a popular annual event is Spirits Alive, at which local actors depict some of the people buried there.

Other outreach events have included working with the neighboring elementary school, PS 99 The Kew Gardens School, to sponsor outdoor classroom garden projects and other arts projects. Upcoming this summer and fall will be science and painting workshops for children, pumpkin carving and a Halloween festival. Overseeing many of these activities is Friends of Maple Grove, the group created to promote community outreach programs.

With the opening of a new 18,000-square-foot visitors' center in 2008, known as The Center at Maple Grove, the cemetery is branching out as a community center available for events that are in keeping with Maple Grove's focus on history and beauty. A concert celebrating the 130th birthday of noted pianist Rosina Lhevinne, a Kew Gardens resident who is buried at Maple Grove, was held last March.

For those who attended the jazz concert, it was a magical evening of classic swing of the 1930s, performed by the Lew Picardi Big Band, under the direction of Andrew J. Koslosky.

The numbers made famous by jazz musicians like Artie Shaw, Woody Herman, Count Basie, Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller, among others, ended with a Benny Goodman favorite, Sing, Sing, Sing, just as a half-moon brightened the night sky behind the visitors' center.

Earlier Articles:
  •   The Blizzard of 2009
  •   Filming in Kew Gardens
  •   The 95th Annual Meeting of the Kew Gardens Civic Association, Inc.
  •   Let It Snow - Scenes from Forest Park
  •   A Community Discovers Its Village Roots
  •   Spirits Alive! (2007) at Maple Grove Cemetery
  •   Day of Remembrance at Maple Grove Honors the Dead with a Celebration of Life
  •   Summer in the City
  •   Concerns Over P.S.99, Post Office, And Impact Of Potential Landmarking Draw Large Crowd To Town Hall Meeting
  •   Kew Gardens Community Day (2007)
  •   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 (2006)
  •   They Lift Up their Voices Every Friday