2001-07-14 / Columnists

Rockaway Short Takes by Howard Schwach

Rockaway Short Takes by Howard Schwach

It seems clear now that the Rockaway Irish Festival is a thing of the past, a relic like most of "Rockaway’s Irishtown." Word has it that the festival was losing money and that it has become "old hat" to many of the older people who attended. What seems to have killed it, however, is the mayor’s edict that beer and other alcoholic beverages could no longer be sold at open-air festivals such as the Irish Festival. Anybody who ever attended the festival knows that beer and music were the two major attractions. It is a shame, because the festival drew lots of people to Rockaway and raised lots of money for a worthy cause.

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The local post office threw a party on the boardwalk to honor the Unites States Cycling team last week and hardly anybody came. The USPS is raffling off a flag signed by all the members of the cycling team, including Lance Armstrong, and that is a prize that any bicycle riders should appreciate. Those who did not file a ticket at the event may do so at the Rockaway Park post office, where the flag is in view.

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An interesting side bar to the USPS event was that one of the speakers was John Pergolizzi, who represents a group called "Bicycle Racing at Gateway (BRAG)," and who told me that there were plans afoot to build a world class velodrome to Gateway National Park in Brooklyn. It would be the larges and most modern in the nation and that is an exciting prospect. It’s development would be tied in with the sports complex that is planned for Floyd Bennett Field.

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As strange as it may seem, Al Stabile is still both the Republican and Conservative party candidate for Queens Borough President. Those of you who read this space regularly know that Stabile is ill (he reportedly recently had surgery for a growth behind his eye) and that he is beset by political problems due to allegations that he played fast and loose with little league funds and that he used some of his campaign funds for his daughter’s wedding. You would think that those issues would be enough to make a man give up and retire gracefully, but apparently not for Al. Both of the parties are reportedly saying that they are waiting for somebody to indict Stabile before they pull his candidacy. Either both of those parties are stupid or they cannot find another candidate who wants to commit suicide in this highly Democratic borough.

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Elsewhere in this paper, you will see a page of pictures of the Beach 131 Street "Honor America" day that was held on July 4. Look at the pictures and at all of the kids involved in the ceremony. It is unusual these days to see kids honoring their country and their country’s history. Perhaps we need more of that kind of thing from other’s on the peninsula.

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The semi-finals of the city’s beach volleyball tournament will be held nearby Beach 116 Street on July 28 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Any individual or group who wants to join in the tournament should contact the Parks Department.

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The New York Power Authority (NYPA) trustees voted last month to enter into a $20 million dollar agreement to build a new aquarium nearby the St. Lawrence River at Massena, New York. That was just a small story in the NYPA newsletter, but it has to kick off questions about why Rockaway cannot get amenities such as that. According to the newsletter, the local state and federal politicians in the area (assembly, State Senate, etc.) were instrumental in getting the organization to come up with the money. Where are our local pols? Why don’t they work behind the scenes to do things for Rockaway that other pols seem to do as a matter of course? Ah, that is the question!

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The RMAC once again has a successful concert last Sunday night. Phil Giordano and his Orchestra played lots of oldies that had the 200 people in attendance tapping their feet. Even the threatening weather could not keep Big Band aficionados away.

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More and more beaches are being opened on a regular basis each week, according to Parks Department sources. Some are open only on weekends, but most are open seven days a week. The major closings are along the Arverne Urban Renewal Area, where few residents live and from Beach 42 Street to Beach 56 Street, where Piping Plovers are keeping the beaches from being used by local residents.

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Jimmy Breslin wrote a really positive column about Rockaway last week, pointing out what great surfing beaches we have along the peninsula. He did take a shot at the Parks Department for not supplying enough lifeguards to keep all his favorite beaches open, but they deserve it. The problem is, Breslin says that his favorite surfing beach is Beach 88 Street and that the beach is closed because it does not have a lifeguard, but the Parks Department told us that beach is open seven days a week. Welcome to Rockaway anyway, Jimmy. Drop in and visit us next time you come here to surf. We are at Beach 88 and RBB.

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Remember to donate blood July 19 at the Park Nursing Home, Beach 115 Street, from 10:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. The life you save may be somebody you know.

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That’s it for this week. Remember to send comments, complaints and story tips to newsie42@aol.com or to

editor@rockawave.com


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