Rockaway' s beaches were officially opened last Friday by Deputy Parks Commissioner Liam Kavanagh and Joe Addabbo, our councilman, who also happens to be chair of the council' s Parks Committee. The day before, the city' s beaches were officially opened by the parks commissioner and Mayor Mike Bloomberg. That took place in Coney Island. Why not Rockaway? You' ll have to ask the mayor that question, but I suspect it has something to do with all the commercial development that is going on at the Brooklyn beach.
It was surprising that the Memorial Day Parade in Broad Channel was much more sparsely attended than in recent years, while, in Rockaway, the attendance was greater than it has been in years. Both parades went off without a hitch, however, and the weather even cooperated. We would have thought that memories of September 11 would have brought out the multitudes, but they did not.
Over the Memorial Day weekend, I met with two men who received medals from Congressman Anthony Weiner on Memorial Day at Floyd Bennett Field. Both of those men fought in the D-Day invasion and both are Rockaway residents. The two, Alexander Flanagan and Leslie Brown, were part of a ceremony at the National Park site. The medals were presented by the French government last year, but many locals were not able to attend the French ceremony. Brown was later a prisoner of war of the Germans. We would bet that both have great stories to tell.
In last week' s Wave, we ran two pages of pictures from the 1952 Memorial Day Parade. This weekend, one of the men leading the parade told me that he was in the pictures, leading off the 1952 parade. A Pearl Harbor survivor, Anthony Mieni has spanned the fifty years of Rockaway history for us. We hope we see him again leading the way in the 2027 parade. There is another identification from that 1952 parade as well. On page 35 of that issue there is a picture of a woman carrying memorial flowers. She has been identified by her daughter as Isabelle (Fash) Mack, who has since passed away. Mack was a county commander of the American Legion at one time. Her husband served in World War II.
The beaches are open for the season. At least, most of them are open. Despite the fact that Parks recruited a number of lifeguards from other nations, a number of beaches will be closed on a rotating basis until July, when high school and college students become available.
A city EMT has been arrested for stealing a piece of flight 587 after it crashed in Rockaway. Authorities say that the EMT, Michael Johnson, came into Belle Harbor not to assist the injured, but to take a piece of the plane. Johnson has been suspended and nobody will talk about what part of the plane Johnson wound up with.
Everybody connected with the Parks Department and all of our local politicians are warning those who use the beaches to be careful out there. Most Rockaway residents know that it is dangerous to swim when there are no lifeguards present, but we see surfers out there early in the morning and late in the evening, risking their lives for one more wave. The new signs that Parks has put up will unfortunately not deter kids and teens from using the beaches when there are no lifeguards on duty. The young believe that they will live forever. Large fences with barbed wire on top would probably not deter kids in every case. What we need is an educational campaign, perhaps on the subways coming to Rockaway, that warn the young and old alike about the dangers of Rockaway' s ocean beaches.
The sound you hear around the bay is not the sound of waverunners and ski-doos. Not this year. The sound you hear is the sound of owners of personal watercraft complaining that they can't use their expensive toys in the bay any longer. The National Park Service has ordered Gateway and several other parks to allow for a review of its policy banning the watercraft. There will be public hearings and a board will then make recommendations to the powers in Washington. Most local believe that the ban will be modified in some way to allow the watercraft to operate, albeit more safely, in Jamaica Bay waters.
Rockaway residents occasionally are named as Newsday' s Queens Profile of the day. It is unusual, however, for Rockaway residents to be named two days running. That happened last week, when both Sara Berger and JoAnn Shapiro were named back to back. Berger is the commander of the Queens Jewish War Veterans. Shapiro, who works for Assemblymember Audrey Pheffer, is the coordinator for the Cancer Society' s Relay for Life, which will be held at Beach Channel High School June 8 and 9.
We understand that Keyspan Energy will soon complete a feasibility study designed to find out whether it is cost effective for the company to put natural gas lines throughout Broad Channel, the only community in Queens that does not have access to that energy source. There are many who look forward to getting rid of their propane tanks, but there seem to be just as many who do not want to bear the cost of the new lines. This will be an ongoing story in The Channel for the next year or two at least.
It is getting closer to Cyclone Time. The Brooklyn Cyclones open their second season at KeySpan Park in Coney Island on June 19. If you don' t already have tickets, forget about going. Most of the Cyclone' s home games early in the season are already sold out.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is asking Belle Harbor residents to contribute to a study being done on family growth. The community was kicked out by a computer as being representative of numerous communities around the nation. Far fewer Belle Harbor residents are taking part, however, than in other communities selected for the study around the nation. Many seem to believe that the study has something to do with flight 587 or with September 11, but neither is true. Officials at the CDC say that the entire study may be compromised if Belle Harbor residents do not take part.