Tag Archives: Astoria Park

Astoria face and body painter brings out inner child with colorful designs


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of The Cheeky Chipmunk

For one Astoria artist, your face is her canvas.

Lenore Koppelman, 39, is the owner and artist behind The Cheeky Chipmunk, where she has turned face and body painting into living, breathing art.

Born in Queens and raised in New Orleans, La., Koppelman recalls that it was a tradition for her and her family to go to the French Quarter every Sunday after breakfast and get their faces painted. Koppelman said that every Sunday morning she would talk about what she would get painted on her face that day.

As she grew up, she went to college for interior design, and her inner knack for art and creativity followed her throughout the years.

Having lived in Forest Hills from when she was 3 to 6 years old, Koppelman decided to return to Queens eight years ago, and she made the move to Astoria. But her decision to make a career change did not happen until just last year.

While on a walk by Astoria Park with one of her best friends, Pamela Bob, Koppelman pondered over what her true calling was. Realizing that she loved art and loved working with people, she put the two together.

“We both realized at that moment [the face painting business] was going to happen. So I just felt this wave of calm come over me, like I had finally figured out what I was here to do,” Koppelman said. “I got goosebumps and said, ‘I am going to be a face painter.’”

She began painting her friend’s children’s faces for free and realized that something was missing.

“I was terrible. I was really bad. I had no idea how difficult face painting was. I think a lot of parents think, ‘How hard can it be?’” she said. “I then said, if I’m going to really do this, I’m going to have to learn how to do this.”

She began practicing, on herself and others, and reached out to the face painting industry. Koppelman said she was surprised to see the unity in the face and body painting community and she began attending workshops, and meeting other face painters at “jams.”

Koppelman also signed up for an online community called FABA (Face and Body Art) TV, where instructors from around the world share tutorials and tricks on design ideas. She also attended a workshop called Face Painting University and got to learn from professionals in the industry who had appeared in shows such as Skin Wars and Face Off.

“It really took wanting this so badly in order for me to really commit to learning it. This was a whole other level of passion and want. And aside from my little boy and husband, I couldn’t think of anything else I’m more passionate about,” Koppelman said.

Since taking the classes and becoming involved in the community, Koppelman said she felt an increase in confidence. Since September, she has been starting to book more gigs painting faces and bodies, and she even dabbles in maternity belly paintings.

The decision to name the business The Cheeky Chipmunk came from a childhood nickname given to her by her parents and her love for alliteration. She’s now busy offering face and body painting for almost any occasion, from birthdays to corporate events.

Koppelman has also spent her time volunteering for different organizations and events, most recently at a fundraiser held at an Astoria bar called The Quays for a local boy suffering from a rare blood disorder.

She said her favorite moment is the reveal—the moment when a child or adult opens their eyes after sitting patiently through the painting process just trusting her.

Although she is constantly learning and changing designs to meet the latest fads, Koppelman said she still can’t believe she is finally doing what she loves as a career. She hopes to one day publish a book with all her paintings done on her own face and start doing paintings on things in New York she would like to celebrate.

“It’s all about having fun and getting in touch with something inside of you that is magical and youthful and free,” Koppelman said. “Nothing horrible will come of it; it’s paint, it washes off, and it’s a good time. I would love to see more people find that kid inside that just wants to be free. Let the glitter fly free.”


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Astoria featured in city tourism campaign


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via NYC & Company

For people near and far, Astoria is the next go-to destination, according to a new neighborhood tourism campaign.

Astoria has been selected by NYC & Company, the official marketing, tourism and partnership organization for New York City, as the next spotlight area in its Neighborhood x Neighborhood campaign.

“From the remarkable Greek and international cuisine, to the fascinating cultural and arts scene, we are pleased to be promoting all there is to see and do in Astoria,” said Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company. “We invite visitors from around the world and across the United States to discover and rediscover Astoria.”

Starting Tuesday, Astoria is being highlighted as the third feature in a three-part Neighborhood x Neighborhood documentary series. The videos in the series feature a local’s guide to the neighborhood, focusing on shops, restaurants, attractions and the history that makes the area distinct. They also include reasons for both tourists and locals to explore.


“It’s no surprise that the borough of nations is home to Astoria, a culturally diverse community known as both a creative neighborhood full of praiseworthy cultural institutions and a food destination popular for everything from Greek to Italian to Brazilian cuisine,” said Marty Markowitz, vice president of borough promotion and engagement at NYC & Company. “There is something for everyone in this bustling Queens neighborhood, and we encourage New Yorkers and visitors to spend a day in Astoria.”

This announcement comes just a few weeks after NYC & Company launched a three-month promotional campaign called “See Your City” showcasing 10 neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs, including Jackson Heights and Long Island City.

The “must-see Astoria” highlights featured in the Neighborhood x Neighborhood campaign include the Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria Park with its views of Midtown Manhattan, the neighborhood’s prominent Greek culture, restaurant and social scene, and boutique designers. 

The Neighborhood x Neighborhood campaign, first launched in 2013, targets outside visitors and New Yorkers and was designed to highlight the diversity of the city’s five boroughs and encourage people to explore outside “traditional tourist locations.”

For more information, visit nycgo.com/nxn.

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Astoria man charged as serial tagger for graffiti acts


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Queens district attorney's office

An Astoria man was indicted Wednesday for allegedly tagging trees, traffic control boxes and more in the past year, according to the Queens district attorney’s office.

Michael Mestric was arraigned in Queens Supreme Court on 19 counts of criminal mischief and 19 counts of making graffiti.

According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, the 30-year-old “found a canvas for his tag at nearly every turn.”

Between May 2013 and April of this year, Mestric’s tag “AOE” was found spray painted on highway walls along the Grand Central Parkway, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Long Island Expressway, Brown said. Mestric is also being charged for tagging control boxes, a fence, tree, and a historic observation deck at Astoria Park.

“Graffiti is not art – nor is it a victimless crime. Tagging encourages lawlessness. It leads to decreased property values and is expensive to remove,” Brown said.

The damage and cost of removing the graffiti allegedly exceeded $12,500, with the observation deck at Astoria Park alone costing more than $2,500 to repair.

If convicted, Mestric faces up to seven years in prison.

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Beat the heat at free outdoor pools in Queens this summer


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of nycgovparks.org

Instead of sitting in air conditioning, try cooling off in one of the borough’s free outdoor pools starting Friday, June 27. All locations are open from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (with a break for cleaning between 3 and 4 p.m). The season ends September 1.

Astoria Park
19th Street and 23rd Drive
Olympic-sized Pool

Fisher Pool
99th Street and 32nd Avenue
Outdoor Intermediate Pool, Outdoor Wading Pool

Fort Totten
338 Story Avenue
Outdoor Intermediate Pool, Outdoor Wading Pool, Outdoor Diving Pool

Liberty Park Pool
173rd Street and 106th Avenue
Outdoor Intermediate Pool, Outdoor Wading Pool

Marie Curie Park
211th Street and 46th Avenue
Outdoor Mini Pool

P.S. 10
45th Street and 30th Road
Outdoor Mini Pool

P.S. 186 Playground
Little Neck Parkway & 72nd Avenue
Outdoor Mini Pool

Windmuller Park
54th Street and 39th Road
Outdoor Mini Pool

 

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Quiz asks: What NYC park are you?


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File Photo

With hundreds of parks in New York City, it is hard to find the right one to call your own.

The city’s Department of Parks & Recreation just put up a quick quiz on its website to match individuals with a local green space based on likes such as favorite food, book and vacation spot. 

Will you be Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Astoria Park, Juniper Valley Park or another Queens greenery?

To find out, take the quiz here.

 

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Astoria Park gets new trees for green-friendly Five Boro Bike Tour


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

More than 30,000 bicyclists will pedal into a greener Astoria Park this May.

Volunteers from nonprofits Bike New York, the New York Restoration Project and other organizations, as well as local and city officials came together on Earth Day to plant 64 trees at the park, which will be one of the major rest areas for the 37th TD Five Boro Bike Tour.

“It’s our way of giving back to the environment and to the park,” said Beth Heyde, senior events manager for Bike NY.

Out of the 64 trees, which included 12 different species, 20 were placed Tuesday on the route bicyclists have taken throughout the park for years during the bike tour.

“It feels so good to give back to this park that has been giving us so much for 37 years,” said Kenneth J. Podziba, president and CEO of Bike New York, who was born in Howard Beach. “We love Astoria Park so much, we love Queens so much.”

The Five Boro Bike Tour is scheduled to take place on Sunday, May 4, and begin in Lower Manhattan.

This year Bike NY’s bike tour, which allows 32,000 cyclists to wheel through all five boroughs on streets free of traffic, will be the city’s first sporting event and the nation’s second cycling event to be certified as sustainable by the Council for Responsible Sport after making the tour environmentally green.

The nonprofit has partnered with the city’s Department of Environmental Protection to provide riders with fresh city drinking water, eliminating the use of plastic bottles during the bike tour. Riders will also receive a kit that includes a compostable bike ID plate, recyclable bibs and a reusable helmet cover.

“Today is the first step in the right direction,” Podziba said during the April 22 tree planting. “We’re improving Astoria Park. We don’t just want it to be one year; we want to do this every year.”

 

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Woman’s body found washed up near Astoria Park


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

The body of a woman was found washed up on the Astoria shoreline Saturday morning, according to the NYPD.

The unidentified woman was found unresponsive about 11 a.m. near Astoria Park South and Shore Boulevard, police said. She was pronounced dead at the scene and her body was badly decomposed.

The medical examiner will determine the cause of death and the investigation remains ongoing, cops said.

 

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‘Snow day’ at Juniper Valley Park Saturday


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File Photo

Updated 4:00 p.m.

Just because Mother Nature has dropped a few inches of snow, doesn’t mean you can’t put on your snow boots, get the sled and, go out and have some fun.

Keeping in mind to stay safe and bundle up, the Department of Parks and Recreation has declared an official snow day for Saturday, January 4 at five parks across the city. The snow day will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

In Queens, the Parks Department will hold a snow day at Juniper Valley Park, at 78th Street and Juniper Valley North in Middle Village. During the snow day, free organized activities include supervised safe sledding, snowman building contests, best snow angel contests, friendly snowball fights, music, and complimentary hot chocolate.

For more information, please call 311 or visit the Parks Department website for updates.

Even though Juniper Park will be the only park in the borough to include free activities in the case of a snow day, here are other local parks you can visit for some fun in the snow and suggestions for sledding spots, courtesy of the city’s Parks Department. But remember to stay warm and be safe!

Astoria Park, Astoria, 19th Street between Shore Boulevard off Ditmars Boulevard

Bowne Park, Flushing, Small hillside on the 155th Street side of the park

Cunningham Park, Oakland Gardens

Crocheron Park, Bayside, 35th Avenue opposite Golden Pond

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park

Forest Park, Mary Whelan Playground at 79th Street and Park Lane South

Hermon A. Macneil Park, College Point

lower Highland Park, Jamaica Avenue & Elton Street

Kissena Park, Flushing, Eastside of Lake: enter Metcalf and 164th Street

 

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Star of Queens: Richard Khuzami, Community Board 1, chair, Parks and Culture Committee


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

RICHARD KHUZAMI 2

COMMUNITY  SERVICE:  Richard Khuzami has served on Community Board 1 for the past 11 years. He is currently Chair of the Parks and Culture Committee. He is also a member of Borough President Helen Marshall’s Queens General Assembly, and  has  served as a panelist for the awarding of grants for the Queens Council on the Arts.

BACKGROUND:  Khuzami is Lebanese-American, and while he was born in Bayside, he was raised in Rochester. His parents were both professional dancers, which led to his interest in music from the age of 10.

“I have kept this interest alive over the years, and today I specialize in the music of the Middle East, eastern Mediterranean and Northern Africa,” said Khuzami.

He also spent many years in the international shipping business in freight forwarding sales.

“This afforded me the opportunity to travel throughout the world for many years. I still love traveling to many cultures, but today I only have to go around Astoria, one of the most ethnically diverse municipalities in the world,” he said.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Khuzami enjoys having the privilege of working with many dedicated community board and General Assembly members, who donate so much of themselves to making their neighborhood and borough the best it can be.

“My favorite accomplishment is in helping to facilitate the conversion of Astoria Park’s diving pool from a mosquito infested eyesore to the potential of becoming one of the most important performance venues in the United States,” said Khuzami.  “Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr.’s foresight has made this space a reality, and I look forward to working with our new councilmember, Costa Constantinides, to secure the funding to complete the second phase of the construction, creating an unparalleled venue for 2,500 patrons.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “Probably my biggest challenge is to have patience and understanding to realize that everything, especially when dealing with the public sector, takes time. But with perseverance, progress can be made,” said Khuzami.

INSPIRATION:  “My father was a big proponent of public service, and taught us all to respect government and politics, and not shy away from making our opinions known or getting involved,” said Khuzami.  “As my free time increased, it was natural that I try and give back to a community I love, Astoria.”

 

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Homeless woman found guilty for 2010 Astoria Park murder


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY JOHANN HAMILTON

A homeless woman has been found guilty of strangling and beating a man to death in Astoria Park.

According to District Attorney Richard A. Brown, Kelly Harnett, 32, and her boyfriend Thomas Donovan, 34, were arrested on July 7, 2010, in connection with the murder of Ruben Angel Vargas, who police found strangled and beaten around 4 a.m. that morning. Donovan, who pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter, is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence.

Following her arrest, Harnett had been ordered without bail, and has since been convicted of second-degree murder and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon after a jury trial presided by Queens Supreme Court Justice Gregory L. Lasak. Harnett’s last known address was on Shore Boulevard in Astoria, said the district attorney.

“This was a senseless crime in which an innocent victim was robbed of his life,” said Brown. “Justice will only be served – and society protected – when the defendant, like her co-defendant, is given a length prison sentence to punish her for such a wanton act of violence.”

According to trial testimony, Vargas, 32, was in Astoria Park when Harnett repeatedly kicked him in the head and torso while Donovan choked him, said Brown. Afterward, Harnett handed a shoelace to Donovan, who used it to further strangle and kill Vargas before fleeing the scene. The couple was arrested shortly afterwards. Donovan, whose last known address was in Manhattan, pleaded guilty on August 2, 2010.

Harnett’s sentencing is scheduled for November 20. If convicted she faces up to 25 years to life in prison

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Free senior fitness classes at Queens parks


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

This fall, the CityParks Seniors Fitness program will offer free yoga instruction and tennis lessons at four Queens parks.

The activities, which are open to New Yorkers 60 and older, begin the week of September 23 and will take place twice a week at each park through November 1.

All equipment and instruction is free. Sessions are one hour long, except tennis lessons in Astoria Park and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which are two hours.

Here is where and when the classes will take place:

Astoria Park
Tennis – Mondays/Wednesdays at 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Tennis Courts at 21st Street and Hoyt Avenue S

Cunningham Park
Tennis – Tuesdays/Thursdays at 9 a.m – Tennis Courts at Union Turnpike and 193rd Street
Yoga – Tuesdays/Thursdays at 10 a.m – Tennis Courts at Union Turnpike and 193rd Street

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
Tennis – Mondays/Wednesdays at 9 a.m – 11 a.m – Tennis Courts at Meridian Road

Roy Wilkins Park
Tennis – Tuesdays/Thursdays at 10 a.m – Tennis Courts at Baisley Boulevard and 177th Street
Yoga– Tuesdays/Thursdays at 9 a.m – Tennis Courts at Baisley Boulevard  and 177th Street.

NOTE: Schedule subject to change. For the most up-to-date schedule visit: www.cityparksfoundation.org/sports/seniors-fitness.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Mostly cloudy with rain showers, then thunderstorms and rain showers in the afternoon. High of 82. Winds from the SW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Monday night: Overcast with thunderstorms, then a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain after midnight. Low of 73. Winds from the WSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60% with rainfall amounts near 0.2 in. possible.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Free screening of Juno at Astoria Park

The Central Astoria LDC presents Juno as the final film of its Monday night outdoor film series at Astoria Park. Free.  Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Correction officer from Queens arrested after shooting son

A teenager in Queens is in the hospital Monday, suffering from a gunshot wound. And the person accused of firing the shot is his own father, a correction officer at Rikers Island. Read more: ABC New York

Students in Bloomberg’s smaller schools have better on-time graduation rates: report

The new, smaller schools at the center of Mayor Bloomberg’s education reforms have boosted students’ chances of graduating on time, research to be released Monday shows. Read more: New York Daily News

Public advocate candidates clash on qualifications, seek to defend spotty voting records

The Democratic candidates competing for New York City public advocate argued about their qualifications for the job and several sought to explain their spotty voting records Sunday during an official debate on NBC 4 New York. Read more: NBC New York

Barclays Center in the spotlight for MTV Video Music Awards

Brooklyn was on the world stage Sunday night – perhaps like never before – with Barclays Center hosting the MTV Video Music Awards. Read more: CBS New York

Farmers’ Almanac: Super Bowl may be ‘Storm Bowl

he Farmers’ Almanac is using words like “piercing cold,” ”bitterly cold” and “biting cold” to describe the upcoming winter. And if its predictions are right, the first outdoor Super Bowl in years will be a messy “Storm Bowl.” Read more: AP

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Monday: Overcast with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain in the afternoon. High of 79. Winds from the WSW at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 20%. Monday night: Partly cloudy. Low of 70F. Winds from the West at 5 to 10 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: “Annie” at Astoria Park

The Central Astoria LDC presents “Annie” as part of its Monday night outdoor film series. The free screening starts at 8:30 p.m. at Astoria Park. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Cops searching for Sunnyside arson suspect

Police are looking for a suspect who allegedly set a car on fire in Sunnyside. Read more: The Queens Courier

Interracial couple attacked as they leave Queens bar

An interracial couple leaving a Queens bar were attacked by three men who shouted racial and ethnic slurs at them, police said. Read more: New York Daily News

Woodside, Queens crash leaves 2 people injured

Two people were injured Sunday afternoon when a vehicle slammed into a building in Woodside, Queens. Read more: CBS New York

Police hunt for driver who hit officer in Queens

Police were searching Sunday evening for a hit-and-run driver who slammed into an officer in Queens. Read more: CBS New York

Stop-frisk ruling will hurt minorities, Ray Kelly says

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly assailed a federal judge’s finding of racial discrimination and demand for changes to his department’s stop and frisk practice, telling a Sunday news show that minority communities will be “the losers” if the ruling isn’t overturned. Read more: AP

 

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Mostly cloudy with thunderstorms and a chance of rain. High of 81. Winds from the SSE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%. Monday night: Mostly cloudy with thunderstorms and a chance of rain. Low of 72. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Saturday Night Fever

Come to Astoria Park at 8:30 p.m. for a free screening of the movie “Saturday Night Fever.”  Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Package of beauty supplies triggers police, FBI response at JFK

Police and federal agents responded to JFK Airport’s postal facility after two customs agents reported a strange odor coming from a package Sunday, officials said. Read more: NBC New York

Quinn aims to raise the legal dropout age to make sure that a legal adult is making the decision

Kids would be legally barred from dropping out of high school until they turn 18 under a proposal announced Sunday by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Read more: New York Daily News 

New York State cracks down on speeders, other traffic violators

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday announced a weeklong crackdown targeting speeders and aggressive drivers around the state. Read more: CBS New York 

Poll: most New Yorkers embarrassed by Weiner, Spitzer

Even most New Yorkers watching Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer in political races dominated by their sex scandals want to forget about it. Read more: AP

Holder: Some drug offenders shouldn’t face mandatory minimum sentences

Attorney General Eric Holder is directing federal prosecutors to change they way they file charges for some drug crimes, to reduce the number of convictions for offenses that carry inflexible, mandatory minimum sentences. Read more: NBC New York

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Wednesday: Partly cloudy with thunderstorms and rain showers in the morning, then overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers. High of 90. Winds from the WSW at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%. Wednesday night: Overcast with thunderstorms and rain showers. Low of 73. Winds from the WSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: City View Pharmacy’s Free Yoga in Astoria Park

On Wednesdays at 7 p.m. from now until August 28 stretch with City View Pharmacy’s Free Yoga in Astoria Park, weather permitting. Adults only, all ages and levels of experience, including beginners. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Woman stabbed multiple times in Queens Village attack

A woman was seriously wounded in a vicious knife attack in Queens Village this morning, said police. Read more: The Queens Courier

Stunning charges of severe ticket quota policy rock NYC Dept. of Consumer Affairs

There are stunning charges that a New York City agency charged with policing small businesses has a secret quota system and devastatingly high fines that threaten some establishments with extinction. Read more: CBS New York

Queens pol pushes city to put speed camera at busy intersection

A dangerous Queens intersection near an elementary school may get a lot safer. Read more: New York Daily News 

Latino officers question NYPD’s ‘English-only’ policy

The NYPD is under fire for a policy some say is racist. Read more: ABC New York

New York City to offer free summer meals for kids

City officials have announced that free meals will be made available at more than 1,000 pools, parks and other locations for children under 18 starting Thursday, June 27 through August 30. Read more: ABC New York

High court gay marriage decisions due Wednesday 

The Supreme Court is meeting to deliver opinions in two cases that could dramatically alter the rights of gay people across the United States. Read more: AP