Notes From The High C’s by Barbara Eisenstadt
In the eleventh hour before the 2001 Rockaway Music & Arts Fall Festival, an urgent phone call from the Mayor’s Office stunned us all…bluntly stating that all New York City street events had been cancelled until after October 21. Was it a hoax? Did it really apply to our festival, located mostly in Gateway National Recreation Area and not on a street where emergency vehicles would be impaired? Requesting faxed confirmation to verify this information, we were told that a fax was not possible, since the phone lines at 51 Chambers Street were not working.
It was Thursday before we could confirm the order…. and then rush to comply. (Festival set up begins early Friday morning) The Shore Garden Club had to be notified as did The Wave, the tent company, pony rides, reptile museum, all the food vendors, artists, craftspeople (some from out of state were all ready to leave for New York), entertainers and education groups. Signs had to be removed, others changed…and a myriad of other components that go into creating the festival…. called off.
Prior to the abrupt cancellation, in light of the World Trade Center disaster, RMAC had difficulty deciding whether to proceed with the festival this year. Then, recalling the warm community spirit always evident at the festival, and Mayor Giuliani’s request that the city return to normal, we determined to continue, anticipating the fund-raising opportunity to support the Rockaway Relief-Memorial Fund sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.
However, there were to be no exceptions to the cancellation. We regret any confusion or inconvenience this may have caused and pray for the suffering Rockaway families whose losses are indescribable. May we, out of the ashes of destruction, become better, not bitter, and may we meet next year at the RMAC Fall Festival in a world that knows peace.
In times of great emotion there is an urgency to act…. we witness lines of volunteers ready to rescue, support, give blood…give their very lives. Pre-September 11 New Yorkers…. who rush about with ordinary pursuits might have avoided sharing a simple smile…. now feel an almost magnetic pull to help in any way possible. Now we show our true mettle. Many also find a need to sit down with a pencil and paper and give expression to the pain.
Our world changed in a second, our innocence is gone; and summer’s carefree spirit now wails a mournful song.
We need to help the suffering, we all share in the pain; newscasters grip us tightly, though the search might be in vain.
Flags wave in proud commitment, determination drives the brave; steadfast as hope still glimmers, if even one life can be saved.
Tearful eyes echo with sorrow, hearts burdened, not light; candles glow with prayerful messages to lead us through the night.
Sing praises for our heroes, stars in a heavenly sky; we understand so little and want a reason why.
We will not be defeated, our efforts must not cease; the legacy to our children must be a world at peace.