2008-06-13 / Community

Local Climbs Times To New Heights

By Howard Schwach

When Rey Clarke, Jr., was a teenager, most of his excitement came from sports and from riding along with the Bayswater Civilian Patrol on its nightly circuits around the east end community. Rey often joined his father and other patrol officers in driving the streets of the community, acting as the eyes and ears of the 101 Precinct cops who rode Sector Charlie, which took in the Bayswater community.

More recently, however, Clarke, who is now 32-years-old, held national attention for a much more exciting deed - climbing the side of the 52-story New York Times Building in Manhattan.

Clarke, who attended PS 104 in Bayswater and Far Rockaway High School, underwent a psychiatric hearing at Bellevue Hospital last week as a result of climbing the building.

He told doctors, and anybody else who would listen, that he wanted to bring attention to the fight against malaria.

Clarke said that he began climbing by climbing the rocks in Central Park. He told police that he got involved in extreme sports like snowboarding and mountain biking, and that he had "secretly" climbed other tall structures, such as the Hearst Building and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Clarke's father, Renaldo Clarke, Sr., was a member of the Bayswater Patrol and its parent body, the Bayswater Civic Association for years before retiring from Con Edison and moving three years ago to Atlanta, Georgia.

The senior Clarke was also a political activist and the president of the Far Rockaway High School Parents Association.

Clarke told reporters that he was watching "some silly guy climb the side of the building," when a reporter for an Atlanta station reported that the man's T-shirt said something about malaria.

He said that he shouted to his wife, Connie, "It's Ray on the building."

They watched as their son reached the top and was arrested by members of the NYPD's Emergency Service Unit, who were waiting for him.

"I want everybody to know that my son is not a nut," the elder Clarke told an Atlanta newspaper. "He's strong and he's not afraid of anything, and he's done dangerous things before. He climbed the Brooklyn Bridge a few years ago, and I had a talk with him. I guess I'm going to have another one of those talks."

Clarke added that his son once took a kayak from Rockaway, up the river to Manhattan.

Clarke said that his son became passionate about malaria when the head of the engineering firm that he works for began championing the cause of defeating the insect-borne disease.

During the climb, Clarke wore a Tshirt that read, "Malaria No More."

The elder Clarke said that he learned from reporters that his son had climbed three other buildings, but he wasn't sure where they were.

He is sure, however, that they will not be a fifth.

"That's not going to happen," he said.

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