Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Neighbors Brave Rain to Celebrate and Play

Photo by Molly Cichy
Photo by Molly Cichy

Music. Barbeque. Dance. Dog shows. Puppet-making. Stilt-walking. Life-sized chess. Glitter and paint and bubbles galore. Over 500 community members were greeted by these exciting activities, and many more, at the Kingston Avenue Festival last Saturday. The day celebrated and brought together a neighborhood has now gone 83 days without a shooting. Despite the gray-skies, the festival-goers, including neighborhood residents, service-oriented organizations, youth groups, all engaged with the many activities and resources at the block party.

Activities and resources at the fair included over 15 arts & crafts interactive tables, over 40 resource agencies, several workshops, a free manicure station, and 25 performances. Jason Das, a Crown Heights artist, painted a live mural of the space, which had people on the street lining up for portraits. Lines also formed by the barbeque, where the S.O.S. team and volunteers grilled and distributed over 300 burgers and hotdogs to hungry festival-goers.

Photo by Andrew Hinderaker
Photo by Andrew Hinderaker

The soundtrack to the festival included steel pan from the Pan Sonatas, a drum circle led by Sam Bathrick, R&B performances from young, local talent like Tayahna Walcott who rapped, “Stop Bullying,” and DJing from BBox Radio. S.O.S. Outreach Worker Derick Scott emceed the event, saying into the loudspeaker, “Let’s put the neighbor back into the hood.”

Hosted in partnership with The Kingston Avenue Merchants Association (KAMA), the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, and the NYC Department of Transportation, this initiative illustrated the multiple, continued efforts to create and nurture safe spaces within Crown Heights. Joyce Robinson, owner of Better Choice Funding, and head of KAMA, stated, “We want people to see how merchants care for the community and its safety.”

As smiling and slightly soggy festival goers prepared to return home that evening, the BBox Radio DJ played closing songs like, “Cha Cha slide” and “Cupid Shuffle,” and a dance party broke out in the street. Marlon Peterson, associate director of the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center surveyed the scene and said, “This event highlighted the goodness of this neighborhood. It brought everyone together, the merchants, young people, and showed how positive people here can be. It really brought a great vibe to these streets.”

This wonderful event would not have been possible without the cooperation of so many organizations, merchants, and volunteers. We owe many thanks to our partners in this event, and want to express our sincere gratitude to the volunteers who helped set up and clean up the event, take photos, hand out food, make arts and crafts, and everyone who contributed such a positive atmosphere.

To view more pictures from the festival, click here!

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