2002-05-25 / Columnists


Long-time Arverne activist and civic leader Mario Russo passed away last weekend. Mario was a member of Community Board 14 for so long that it often seemed that he was a founding member. He was arguably Rockaway's premier ballroom dancer and the founder of the "Dancing Under the Stars" program. He was always dropping into The Wave to talk about environmental issues around the bay that he loved. He will be missed by his family and by the community.

The Board Channel Volunteer Fire Department held a ceremony to bless its new ambulance last Sunday and it was a standing-room only affair. The old Ambulance 303 was wiped out when Tower Two of the World Trade Center came down around it. The four volunteers who were on the ambulance that day were all injured and evacuated to Jersey City. The new Ambulance 303 is a state of the art "bus" that cost the organization upwards of $150,000 fully-equipped. The money came from fundraisers and with the help of many Broad Channel and Rockaway residents. The McCabe Family, which hosted a run to raise money for the volies, was honored at the ceremony. Public Advocate Betsy Gottbaum presented the volies with a check to assist them in buying the ambulance, the first new ambulance that the group has had in 24 years.

Ten years ago this week, the Queens District Attorney dropped charges against Broad Channel activist Dan Tubridy. The charges against Tubridy rose from the fact that he was fighting the tolls on the Cross Bay Bridge and that he picked up his wife, who walked through the tollbooth to meet him on the Rockaway side of the tolls, and then turned around and went back to Rockaway. He was arrested for evading the tolls and spent 25 hours in jail. Dan's actions, both personally and politically, eventually led the dissolution of the toll for Rockaway residents.

When the ArtFrenzy hits Rockaway on June 8 and 9 at Fort Tilden, there will be a number of local artists involved in the two-day affair. Many of them are members of the Rockaway Artists Alliance, but others will be showing and selling their works as well. Such noted artists and crafts people as Arlene Cornell, Steve Yaegar and Susan Locke will be presenting their work nearby the Firehouse just outside of Fort Tilden.

It's interesting to see how people respond to tragedy. The Daily News recently did a story that detailed the way children in Belle Harbor were handling the trauma of Flight 587 dropping into their neighborhood. A Brooklyn woman took umbrage with the article. "It must never be forgotten that most of the people on that plane were also New Yorkers. They lived here. They worked here, paid taxes and had families that are grieving," she wrote. "I lost my sister-in-law that day, the mother of two children. Is anybody interested in how our families are coping?"

The 100 Precinct's annual Interscholastic Olympics will be held on Thursday, May 30. The event features eight local public and parochial schools participating in Olympic-style athletic contests. It will take place beginning at 9 a.m. at Beach Channel High School. Come out and root for your favorite school.

The annual Community Cruise, a fundraiser for a summer fireworks program, will be held this year on Thursday, July 11. The cruise on the yacht "Mystique" will once again leave from Riis Landing in Fort Tilden at 7 p.m. Tickets are $60 and can be purchased from the Chamber of Commerce office, from West End Realty and from Councilman Joe Addabbo's Rockaway office. The event is sponsored by the 100 Precinct Community Council, and it is usually a high spot in the Rockaway social calendar. Even though the cruise seems a long time away, now is the time to get on board before all the tickets are gone.

Rockaway's Relay For Life is just a few weeks away. The event will take place at Beach Channel High School on June 8 and 9. Teams are still forming for the two-day event. Last year's Rockaway relay was the most successful in the nation. Those who are interested in forming a team or as joining in as an individual should call JoAnn Shapiro at 945-9550.

The New York Times moved us again. The "Paper of Record" said last week that a fire in a Brooklyn synagogue was ruled accidental. The story goes on to identify the synagogue as being in the Rockaways. I guess that, according to the Gray Lady, we are now part of Brooklyn.

Quick action by Wave editor Gary Toms has led to the removal of a smutty billboard nearby PS 106. The billboard, on Beach Channel Drive nearby Beach 35 Street, showed a group of men ogling a woman who was obviously up on a stage doing a strip show. Toms called the three organizations involved with developing and placing the billboard and then did a Page Two story in last week's paper. Within days, the billboard was changed to a more reasonable depiction given that it is near a school.

The FAA told The Wave last week that the new flight paths that would take aircraft departing JFK's Runway 31L out over Breezy Point rather than Belle Harbor will begin on June 13. The agency said that it found a glitch in the process and had to test-fly the route before it could be approved. Rockaway residents remain skeptical. "Where have I heard that promise before," one Belle Harbor resident asked The Wave.

In this edition of The Wave, there are two pages of pictures from the 1952 Rockaway Memorial Day Parade. The American Legion Post found the pictures and donated them to the Rockaway Museum. Problem is, we can't identify any of the people in the pictures. After all, it was fifty years ago when the pictures were taken. If you can help us with any identifications, contact us by e-mail or by phone.

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