Middle Collegiate combines Juneteenth and Pride celebration

Middle Collegiate Church’s Rev. Jacqui Lewis with Shan Gilani, husband of late activist Gary Ranker and Ranker’s son Kevin (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Middle Collegiate Church combined civil rights and Pride for an all-inclusive Juneteenth celebration last week. Senior minister Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis said that the event for Pride month was consciously held on Juneteenth. The holiday, celebrated on June 19, commemorates the emancipation of all slaves from the former Confederate states in 1865.

“We wanted to do something Juneteenth-related because it doesn’t get nearly enough recognition,” Lewis said. “We’ve been celebrating Pride 24/7/365 at Middle for decades and we’re super excited to combine these two liberation movements. This was a way to celebrate these two things together.”

The event, which honored civil rights activist Ruby Sales and gay rights activist Gary Ranker, who died earlier this year, also served as the launch of the photo exhibit, “Queer Faith,” which was also featured at the Union Theological Seminary in East Harlem.

Sales was at the event and spoke about realizing that she was a lesbian, coming out and joining the gay rights movement while fighting for civil rights.

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Easter egg hunt in Stuyvesant Town

Due to an April shower on Saturday, the traditional Easter activities for children in Stuyvesant Town, an egg hunt and visit from the Easter Bunny, were postponed by a day. However, children and their families still turned up en masse on Easter Sunday and an egg-citing time seemed to be had by all. (Photos by Steven Noveck)

By Stephen Noveck

Despite a rain-related delay of one day, the annual Stuyvesant Town Easter egg hunt had a massive turnout for children of all age groups on Sunday.

Countless pastel colored eggs were laid out for the taking in the middle of Playground 10, and the Easter Bunny also showed, drawing a long line for pictures at the end of the age 2-4 egg hunt. Each group took about two minutes to clear out the playground of eggs, which were quickly delved into for the treats inside. Stuy Town was recycling the egg shells and it didn’t take long for the bag to fill up.

A seven-year-old named Camila won the grand prize of a $25 gift card to the Ibiza Kids toy store on 1st Avenue in the age 5-8 group. Hundreds of children participated.

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Police presence increased at local churches after Easter Sri Lanka bombing

Calvary Church in Gramercy

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The NYPD announced heightened security measures at houses of worship throughout the city over the Easter weekend in light of bombings in Colombo, Sri Lanka over the holiday and while some local churches noticed an increase in officers during the weekend, parishioners mainly celebrated the holidays in good spirits.

“I don’t think people knew why (the officers) were there and no one expressed any concern, but we did pray for the people of Sri Lanka during the mass,” said Father Jim Mayzik of Epiphany Church, noting that officers stood outside the church on the plaza during the services. “It was a nice day and we had a giant number of people come to celebrate the holiday.”

Karin Rosner, a spokesperson for Calvary-St. George’s, said that she had actually requested the presence of auxiliary officers during the church’s Palm Sunday Procession in Gramercy and the Maundy Thursday Procession from Stuyvesant Square up to Gramercy with the violence in Pittsburgh in mind, but there was also a noticeable police presence at Calvary on Easter Sunday, with at least two officers at the church for the 11 a.m. service.

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Caroling at Stuyvesant Square Park

Carolers in Stuyvesant Square Park (Photos by Irina Island Images)

On Christmas Eve, an evening of caroling was hosted by the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association. Reverend Ben DeHart from Calvary-St. George’s said a few words about Rosalee Isaly, SPNA’s longtime president who died in July from cancer. Isaly had begun the tradition if caroling at Stuyvesant Square Park, where on Tuesday, at least 100 people were in attendance. Music was provided by Alex Nguyen and Friends who are behind him. Hot chocolate was donated by Veselka.

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Caroling at Gramercy Park

Carolers in Gramercy Park (Photos by Ira Fox Photography)

On Christmas Eve, the trustees of Gramercy Park and the Gramercy Park Block Association hosted an evening of caroling, an annual tradition that draws thousands from around the city to the normally private park. The event was hosted by Arlene Harrison, president of the GPBA; Calvary Rector Rev. Jacob Smith and Rector Emeritus Rev. Dr. Thomas Pike. Caroling was led Kamel Boutros, music director at Calvary-St. George’s, with music by Alex Nguyen and Friends.

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THANK YOU: Nearly 250 toys donated to Town & Village holiday drive

Dr. Bonnie Robbins of Mount Sinai Beth Israel says this drive has become more crucial to the families the hospital serves. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Readers of Town & Village have once again made the holidays a little brighter for children stuck in hospital rooms as well as the families utilizing the outpatient clinics run by Mount Sinai Beth Israel by donating nearly 250 toys to this newspaper’s annual drive.

Gifts for kids of all ages were donated this year including instruments, jewelry making kits, board games, action figures and fashion dolls.

Town & Village’s partners on this longstanding community tradition are Stuy Town Property Services, the management of Waterside Plaza and M&T Bank on First Avenue and 23rd Street, who all provided convenient toy dropoff sites.

Bonnie Robbins, PhD, coordinator of children and family services at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, has said in recent years it has been more challenging to get enough toys to meet the needs of patients. This has been, she suspects, in part due to the economy but also competition from other drives for donations from individuals and toy retailers.

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13th Pct. Community Council holds holiday dinner at Hane

Event guests, including, in the back, Frank Scala, Community Council president; Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman, commanding officer of the 13th Precinct; and another guest (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The 13th Precinct Community Council held its annual holiday dinner for members at Hane Sushi in Stuyvesant Town on Monday evening.

About 30 regular attendees of the monthly community council meetings were at the dinner, including the precinct’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman, Executive Officer Ernesto Castro and community affairs officers John Considine and Detective Vincent Arlotta. Community Council President Frank Scala thanked the officers for their work in the community throughout the year and Hellman said that he was looking forward to continuing the work in the neighborhood next year.

“It’s been a tough year but we’re making progress,” Hellman said. “We’ll be focusing on connecting more with the community in the upcoming months.”

Last minute gifts for less than $50 found at Union Sq. Holiday Market

One-of-a-kind leather-bound journals (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

With Christmas now days away, those who have yet to finish their gift shopping — or start — needn’t panic.

Quality gifts aplenty can be found at The Union Square Holiday Market, which, each year, features goods from around 150 vendors at the southern end of the park. Town & Village recently wandered around in search of last-minute gift ideas and found a bunch, all for $50 or less.

Journals with covers made of leather or wood

New company Bora Ninova (created by one of the three brothers behind Bora Jewelry, a longtime market vendor) makes one-of-a-kind journals, manufactured in Turkey. The covers are made from either wrought leather in rich colors or thin wooden panels with etched drawings and are all priced between $20-$45.

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Warning about invasive insect isn’t bugging buyers of Christmas trees

A Christmas tree stand outside Augustus-St. Gaudens Playground (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Despite a warning from Senator Charles Schumer that an invasive insect might be infiltrating Christmas trees in the New York area, people shopping for trees this week didn’t seem too worried about the bugs dampening their holiday spirit.

Schumer warned that the bug, called the spotted lanternfly, could be a threat to natural resources in open spaces like Central Park and leafy neighborhoods. The insect, could be hitching a ride from trees brought in from out of state and the senator expressed concern about the effect the destructive bug could have on trees in local parks and threatening New York’s agricultural health.

George Smith, who has been running the Parks-operated trees stand outside the Augustus-St. Gaudens playground on Second Avenue between East 19th and 20th Streets for the last 12 years, said that he heard about bugs from an article in the Daily News earlier in the week but customers haven’t asked him about it.

“The tree bugs don’t really affect people so nobody’s really said anything or noticed,” Smith said.

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Santa Con is coming to town on Saturday

Santa Con revelers, pictured in 2016 at the Flatiron Plaza (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Love it or hate it, Santa Con is here to stay in New York City with the next yuletide pub crawl scheduled for this Saturday, December 8.

Whether you hope to participate (for a $12 donation to charity) or just avoid the red-and-white-clad revelers, the organization that runs the event has begun listing the participating venues on its website. The actual route isn’t usually revealed until 24 hours before the start of the event, where men and women have made a tradition of dressing like Santa, elves, reindeer and in other holiday-inspired attire.

The venues are mostly clustered in the East Village, as well as midtown, mostly in the 30s with a few in Flatiron and Union Square. Some of the venues on the south end of the route include The Phoenix, Nowhere Bar, Crocodile Lounge, SideBar, Plug Uglies, Coyote Ugly, The Continental, Vazac Horseshoe Bar, Machos NYC. In Flatiron, there’s Taj, 230 Fifth Avenue rooftop bar and Slate. In midtown, they’re Feile, Rattle and Hum, Brother Jimmy’s BBQ, Blarney Stone, Jack Doyle’s and Rick’s Cabaret.
For the full list, visit santacon.nyc/route.

Town & Village holding toy drive to benefit Mount Sinai Beth Israel

Gifts donated to Mount Sinai Beth Israel in 2016 (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Town & Village is holding a toy drive to help make the holidays brighter for children undergoing medical treatment during the holiday season as well as the children of families in outpatient programs run by Mount Sinai Beth Israel.

Gifts will be accepted for children of all ages as long as they are new. Items for older boys are especially in high demand. No toy weapons, please.

Partnering with Town & Village on this effort is:

Stuyvesant Town Property Services, accepting toys in bins located at Resident Services, 276 First Avenue on the First Avenue Loop Road and the Peter Cooper Village kiosk at 22nd Street and First Avenue

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Holiday gifts for $30 or under found at neighborhood stores

Necklaces with pendants fashioned out of real flowers on display at HE Boutique (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

With Christmas coming and Hanukkah too — this weekend in fact for the latter — local stores are now in full holiday mode, with shelves stocked with a surprising amount of bargains, not to mention hard to find items. For those unsure of where to start looking, Town & Village has compiled a list of interesting gifts found at neighborhood stores, all costing $30 or less.

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Glowing sculpture debuts in Flatiron

“Happy,” the seasonal installation at the Flatiron Plaza (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership officially debuted the public art installation “Happy” to kick off the holiday festivities in the neighborhood this past Monday evening.

Architect Benjamin Cadena designed the installation through the fifth annual Flatiron Plaza Holiday Design Competition with the Department of Transportation arts program and the Van Alen Institute.

Cadena said that he wanted to design something that felt warm during the colder months but also that would cheer up passersby suffering from the winter blues.

“With the cold winter, I wanted to make a space that looks and feels warmer but I also wanted to project a positive object that makes you feel good,” he said. “I also wanted to do something a little different from the past installations and define a specific space, embracing the whole plaza.”

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Flatiron BID presents ‘23 Days of Flatiron Cheer’ event series

The rendering shows “Happy,” a soon-to-be unveiled holiday installation at the Flatiron Plaza. (Rendering courtesy of Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership BID)

On Monday, November 19, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District will launch its seventh annual “23 Days of Flatiron Cheer” programming and unveil, in partnership with Van Alen Institute, a vibrant public art installation – “Happy.”

The event series will kick off on Monday, November 19 from 6-8 p.m. at Flatiron North Public Plaza, 23rd Street between Broadway and Fifth Avenue.

The event will offer a preview of “23 Days,” which runs from Saturday, December 1 to Sunday, December 23 and features free, holiday-themed events. This year’s “23 Days” also will include a food drive, free fitness classes, and an ongoing series of food features with top chefs in the district.

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Veterans Day Parade celebrates end of WWI

Photos by Sabina Mollot

By Sabina Mollot

On Sunday, around 25,000 veterans, active military personnel and their supporters marched up Fifth Avenue from 23rd Street for New York City’s annual Veterans Day Parade.

The city’s parade, which is the largest in the country, this year celebrated the centennial of the end of World War I, with the army the featured branch of the military.

Prior to the march, speakers mentioned how that war presented a number of firsts, including women joining the ranks. Additionally, one tenth of the military during what was then known as “The Great War” or “The World War” were residents of New York State, half of those New Yorkers from the city.

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