2004-06-04 / Community

Rockaway Museum Gets Ready to Reopen

Contributing Editor
By Miriam Rosenberg

Rockaway Museum Gets Ready to Reopen

Museum Trustee Steve Yeager begins the process of hanging artifacts for the Playland Retrospective exhibit.Museum Trustee Steve Yeager begins the process of hanging artifacts for the Playland Retrospective exhibit.

By Miriam Rosenberg

Contributing Editor

The Rockaway Museum, which has been closed since the beginning of the year, is in the final stages of renovation. When the museum reopens on June 14 visitors will find more than just a fresh coat of paint on the walls.

The dividing walls in the middle of the museum have been removed giving more open space to the area, and old exhibits have been taken down and packed away.

Graybeards work in the museum to ready it for its new exhibition. Local painter Bob Tyne, a Graybeard member, painted the entire museum.Graybeards work in the museum to ready it for its new exhibition. Local painter Bob Tyne, a Graybeard member, painted the entire museum.

Much of the renovation was done by the Graybeards, a west end group of men who originally got together to play basketball but, after September 11, began to do community work as well. The group has aided in the rehabilitation of both the Cladagh INN and the Rockaway Theatre Company’s Fort Tilden venue.

The main exhibit will be a retrospective on Rockaway’s Playland.

"The exhibit will bring back fond memories to those who remember Rockaway in its heyday," said Susan Locke, the president of the Rockaway Museum.

The exhibit will include photographs of the midway, the park’s many rides and the customers who patronized Playland as well as pictures showing the demolition of the popular park.

A focal point of the exhibit is a huge survey map by that was done by the city. It shows the layout for Playland’s rides and attractions within the confines of the blocks surrounding it. Also included are items that once called Playland home such as signs and a go-cart.

While the museum’s trustees are still putting the finishing touches on the exhibit, other possible memorabilia to be included are prizes that were once given away at Playland and postcard.

The museum will also feature a permanent exhibit dedicated to the flight of the first plane to cross the Atlantic – the NC-4. Included is a scale model of the plane and video of the 1919 takeoff of the historic flight from the old Rockaway Naval Air Station at what is now Riis Park.

The museum does more than display exhibits. The museum also brings the history of Rockaway into the schools in the community.

"The Rockaway Museum is an important organization in Rockaway," Locke said. "[The museum] keeps the history alive. That’s important for those living here and those moving into the Rockaways."

In preparation for the opening, the museum will be holding a gala fundraiser on June 13 at Pier 92 Restaurant. The 4 p.m. event will feature performances from two of Rockaway’s most popular entertainers – Celeste Ray and Ed Deacy.

Ray is an internationally known singer, songwriter and musician of Celtic music. Deacy is the Assistant Dean of Discipline at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx. The former NYPD detective has a new CD called "Ed Deacy – My Celtic Heart."

Tickets for the fundraiser can be obtained at The Wave at 88-08 Rockaway Beach Blvd. A $20 donation is required for admittance to the fundraiser. Those wanting more information on the fundraiser can call The Wave office at 718 634-4000 or Grace in Breezy Point at 718 634-8239.

The cost of the cocktail party is being borne by The Wave and all monies collected will go directly to the museum.

Starting on June 14 the Rockaway Museum will be open to visitors three days a week – Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. It is located in The Wave Building and admission is free. Memorabilia such as tee shirts, books, and postcards can be purchased at the museum.

Museum president Susan Locke advised those who want to attend that tickets for the event are going quickly and they should be purchased in advance of the event if at all possible.

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