Tag Archives: Forest Park

Birds flock to winter hot spot Queens


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the Queens County Bird Club

Queens isn’t just the world’s borough. It’s also the birds’ borough.

Birds migrating south for the winter stop in Queens, using the borough’s numerous parks as a rest stop. Other birds, like the snow owl, dig in for the winter and stay in New York City for the season. Witnessing it all are the bird watchers of the Queens County Bird Club.

Bird watching – or birding, to use the hobby’s parlance – is a common practice in Queens, according to Arie Gilbert, president of the Queens County Bird Club. As the season nears winter, leaves falling from trees give parks a desolate, dead look, but they reveal many types of birds that won’t be found in warmer months. Gilbert’s club makes many trips to Alley Pond Park, Kissena Park, Forest Park and, of course, Gilbert said, Jamaica Bay.

“For anybody who even has a passing knowledge of birding knows about Queens and Jamaica Bay,” Gilbert said. “People from all over the world come to New York City to go to Jamaica Bay.”

In these hot spots, people will be able to see birds like the Iceland gull, the great-horned owl and the wood duck.

Along with bird watching trips, the club plans on holding a lecture on Nov. 19 that will help bird watchers identify and note the subtle difference in subspecies like those found in sparrows.

“Birding is not like football. It doesn’t have the same appeal,” Gilbert said. “But it’s a lot of fun being outdoors.”

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Sinkhole in Forest Park addressed by city


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Ed Wendell

The long-ignored sinkhole in Forest Park, which for two years has taken up the sidewalk where pedestrians enter the park from Woodhaven Boulevard, has at last seen some action by the Parks Department.

When The Courier first broke the story last month, the only protection for passersby were metal barricades and caution tape, reducing the size of the walkway and making it a hazard for pedestrians.

This week, a large portion of the sidewalk around the gaping hole has been fenced in by the Parks Department, limiting the risk of injury for parkgoers.

Now, pedestrians must walk across the street when they enter or leave the park, reducing the risk of injury.

The sinkhole was most likely caused by erosion and storm water runoff, according to a Parks Department official, and the agency mobilized a contractor to fix it.

THE COURIER/ Photo by Salvatore Licata

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

“We have designed a solution, which will include clearing and upgrading existing drainage structures, filling the sinkhole, reconstructing the sidewalk and stabilizing the adjacent slope,” the official said. “A contractor has already begun work.”

Ed Wendell, president of Project Woodhaven and a frequent visitor to Forest Park, said he was glad initial steps have been taken but wants to see the repairs completed swiftly.

“I’m glad the first step has been taken and they have closed the sidewalk to take the immediate danger out of the way,” Wendell said. “Now, let’s get it fixed.”

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Police looking for suspect who robbed Forest Park jogger


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

A 28-year-old woman was robbed Tuesday evening as she jogged inside of Forest Park, authorities said.

The victim was running in the park at about 6 p.m. when the suspect grabbed her from behind as she passed by him, cops said. She managed to escape his grasp, but the suspect was able to steal her headphones before fleeing.

Police describe the suspect as a white man, 40 to 45 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall and with a medium build. He was last seen wearing a gray long-sleeved shirt and baggy blue jeans.

2Rob

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Gaping sinkhole in Forest Park worries locals


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Forest Park is home to an 18-hole golf course, but a 19th hole in the park is cause for some concern.

For about two years now, there has been a gaping sinkhole along the entrance path to the park from Woodhaven Boulevard. It was most likely caused by runoff into or deterioration of a catch basin beneath the roadway, according to a representative from the Parks Department.
Locals say it is a major hazard because of where it is situated.

“The sinkhole is right across the street from the carousel, which is a major attraction for children,” said Ed Wendell, a frequent visitor of Forest Park. “It is only a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured and everyone starts saying, ‘Why wasn’t this fixed already?’”

The hole is currently barricaded off and has caution tape around it. It takes up almost the whole sidewalk, forcing people to walk in a single-file line to get past it.

The Parks Department is working on plans to fix it.

“Parks is currently assessing the extent of work that will be required to repair this sinkhole and fix its underlying cause,” the representative said. “Once this assessment has been completed, we will procure a contractor to complete this work.”

There was no timeline given on how long it will take to start the work, but Wendell said he is encouraged that something may finally be done about this ongoing safety issue.

“I’m glad they are aware of the problem and looking into it,” Wendell said. “But we will only be relieved when it is finally taken care of.”

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West Nile spraying to target areas of Queens this week


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Department of Health

On Wednesday, Aug. 27, there will be West Nile spraying in parts of Queens to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of the disease.

The spraying will take place between the hours of 8:15 p.m. and 6 a.m. the next morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Thursday, Aug. 28 during the same hours.

The following neighborhoods are being treated due to rising West Nile virus activity with high mosquito populations, according to the city’s Health Department:

Parts of Auburndale, Murray Hill and Flushing (Bordered by 25th Avenue to the north; Murray Street to the west; 45th Avenue to the south; and 192nd Street, Francis Lewis Boulevard and Utopia Parkway to the east).

Parts of Elmhurst, Forest Hills, Forest Hills Garden, Forest Park, Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park and Woodhaven (Bordered by 63rd Avenue, 80th Street and Long Island Expressway to the north; eastern boundary of Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Metropolitan Avenue, 73rd Place, Myrtle Avenue and eastern boundaries of Mt. Lebanon and Mt. Hope to west; Park Lane South to the south; and Metropolitan Avenue and Alderton Street to the east).

For the application, the Health Department will spray pesticide from trucks and use a very low concentration of Anvil®, 10 + 10, a synthetic pesticide. When properly used, this product poses no significant risks to human health.

The Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

  • Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions  are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.
  • Air conditioners may remain on, however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.
  •  Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment, and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If  outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using  again.
  • Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.

 

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104th Precinct to increase patrols in Highland Park


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The 104th Precinct wants park-goers to take a hike out of Highland Park at curfew.

Starting later this year officers will make daily patrols through the park at 8:30 p.m. to tell people to leave by 9 p.m., when it closes.

Residents living near Highland Park, a green space with many trails and ball fields near the Brooklyn-Queens border in Ridgewood, have been complaining about people using the park through the late hours of the night.

The Precinct has heard complaints of drinking and loud music playing after hours in the park dating back to last year, and Captain Chris Manson said that the party has ended.

Officers will start making the rounds as soon as the weather is warmer. If someone is spotted after the curfew they will be issued a summons.

“I want people to use the parks, but at a reasonable time,” Manson said. “I expect a major quality of life improvement.”

Manson said the increased enforcement could begin around the end of March.

Park enforcement has been a major issue throughout the confines of the 104th Precinct.

There have been about 270 summonses issued to people in parks in the region over the last month alone, according to statistics by the NYPD. Sixty of those summonses were given to people for just being in parks after hours.

Also, nearby Forest Park will receive NYPD cameras later this year to help improve safety, after a string of sexual assaults.

 

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Forest Park to get NYPD security cameras following sex assaults


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Brooklyn Media Group

Criminals should say cheese before they commit a crime in Forest Park.

State Assemblymember Mike Miller and Senator Joe Addabbo, who represents the park, allocated $250,000 for more than a dozen cameras inside the park, and received permission from the NYPD on Monday to have the devices installed within the next few months, following a string of sexual assaults in the green space.

“I think it will be extremely helpful in being a deterrent to crime,” Miller said. “If somebody thinks of doing something there, and they see the camera, they will think twice before committing a crime.”

Miller said they haven’t decided the exact locations of where the cameras will be placed in the park, but he wants to put them in entrances and areas where many people gather, such as Victory Field.

There will be a total of seven $35,000 units with two cameras on each, for a total of 14 cameras. Miller hopes installing the devices will not only be a crime deterrent, but will also help the NYPD identify suspects.

The camera solution comes after police tied one suspect, who is still at large, to six sexual assaults in and around the park, dating back to March 2011.

The latest assault occurred on August 26 of this year, when the victim, a 69-year-old woman jogging through the park, was approached by the suspect, who tasered and pushed her to the ground before raping her, police said.

“If there is an issue going on in Forest Park I felt putting a camera in there would bring security in the area,” Miller said. “If we can protect one person then we have done our job.”


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Woodhaven QueensWay forum brings in new ideas


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File Photo

New ideas are flowing in for the abandoned Rockaway Beach rail line.

The Woodhaven Residents Block Assocation (WRBA) hosted what attendees are calling the truest, open public forum held thus far regarding the QueensWay and Rockaway Beach line.

Advocates for the proposed 3.5-mile QueensWay park along the abandoned rail line addressed those with reservations about the project and vice versa on Monday in Woodhaven.

Ed Wendell, WRBA president, brought a new idea to the table. He said the Brooklyn-Queens Greenway that currently runs through Forest Park has been “a problem for 20 years,” and QueensWay officials should use this space as their “lab experiment.”

“Why don’t we focus on cleaning up the existing greenway,” he said. “Show us what you can do, and the community will be much more receptive.”

Alexander Blenkinsopp, a WRBA member, called this idea “brilliant,” and offered an additional option for “each community to decide what they want done with their stretch of the tracks.”

The old rail line runs up 98th Street from the Rockaways to Manhattan.

“If the people of Forest Hills really want the QueensWay, let them have it in their neighborhood,” he said. “And if it’s so wonderful, the residents of Woodhaven will see how great it is in Forest Hills and will eventually welcome it into their community as well.”

Wendell echoed many people when he said one main concern to address before moving forward with building a new park is security in existing greenspaces such as Forest Park.

“We see women jogging in the morning using flashlights,” Wendell said. “How terrifying is that? That they have to do this.”

He said that park officials as well as cops in the 102nd Precinct should be given proper resources to patrol the park before more acres are added via the QueensWay, which would connect to Forest Park.

A feasibility study to determine the possibility of creating the new park is currently underway, and QueensWay supporters noted it is “just a study” and “there really is no plan yet.”

However, residents doubt a QueensWay study would show the QueensWay is not feasible.

“Any proposals that come back are going to have to take into account a lot of people’s concerns,” Wendell said. “There are a whole lot of emotions and feelings on it.”

 

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Board derails QueensWay funding


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association

Community Board 9 has taken QueensWay funding out of its budget.

At its November meeting, the board voted 30-13 and concluded that its capital budget should not prioritize the proposal, which would convert a 3.5-mile former Rockaway Beach LIRR line into a public greenway.

Late last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo awarded $467,000 to study the project’s potential, and an additional $600,000 was raised through private donations.

The nonprofit Trust for Public Land has put together a team that will conduct the study.

“If the feasibility of a project can’t be figured out when it already has nearly a half million dollars to figure it out, then there’s a problem,” said Alexander Blenkinsopp, CB 9 and Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) member.

The QueensWay, if built, would connect Rego Park, Forest Hills, Richmond Hill and Ozone Park to Forest Park, provide pedestrian and bike paths, as well as public green space and serve as an art and culture forum.

Marc Matsil, the New York State Director for Trust for Public Land, said CB 9 was right to have taken the QueensWay out of its priorities because “the funds were raised.”

The proposal, however, has met a varying amount of both opposition and support.

Many area residents believe instead of a new park, the rail line should be reactivated to provide more public transportation. Others say the safety of current parks, such as nearby Forest Park, should be assured before a new greenspace is created.

The WRBA decided not to support either the QueensWay or a train reactivation because there were “some important questions that couldn’t be answered adequately,” Blenkinsopp said, mentioning safety.

CB 9 has not yet replaced QueensWay with any other item on its budget priorities.

“We know there will be critics,” Matsil said. “Our goal is to work with everyone.”

Matsil said, however, there is an “immense amount of enthusiasm in the community” for the potential new park and that though the safety concerns are “fairly clear,” he is confident residents feel there is a “need for a project like QueensWay.”

 

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Cops pull back some Forest Park patrols


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The NYPD is pulling back some of its police presence in Forest Park months after beefing up patrols following an August rape cops connected to five other sexual assaults in the park between March 2011 and this summer.

Police decided to remove eight cop cars that were patrolling the area after there were no additional sex crimes reported in the six weeks following the rape, the 102nd Precinct’s commanding officer, Henry Sautner, said at the most recent Community Board 9 (CB9) meeting. He said the resources for the coverage could not be maintained on an ongoing basis.

Sautner said there will still be two officers assigned to patrol the park. They are also utilizing auxiliary officers through their 56-member auxiliary program, with two to three operations per week in Forest Park.

“They’re the police officers and I believe they know best what they are doing,” said Mary Ann Carey, CB9 District Manager.

But Carey said she would like to see more Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officers, for which the community has been lobbying.

A Parks Department spokesperson said this fall new PEP substations in Forest Park and in Rockaway will be opening “allowing [them] to more easily patrol the parks of western and southern Queens, respectively.” The substations, said the spokesperson, were made possible due to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget, which also doubled the amount of city-funded PEP officers that are available for patrols.

 

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Op-Ed: Simple measures for park safety


| oped@queenscourier.com

Late last week, the NYPD revealed that the suspect being sought in the late August attack of a 69-year old jogger in Forest Park is allegedly responsible for five previous attacks in and around the 538-acre park. Police presence has been increased with a temporary command center being set up at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Park Lane South in Richmond Hill.

But this is a temporary measure, one that we’ve seen before. And in a few weeks it will be decided that the resources are needed elsewhere and it’ll be back to business as usual. Back in the 1970s, Assemblymember Frederick D. Schmidt called on the city to make Forest Park a separate police precinct – it’s an idea worth reconsidering.

The 102nd Precinct is currently responsible for Kew Gardens, Richmond Hill East, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven, and the northern part of Ozone Park. The precinct includes a number of busy commercial districts (including Queens Boulevard, 101st Avenue and Jamaica Avenue) and several major roadways. That’s a large area, made even larger by the need to also patrol Forest Park.

A small precinct, or substation, with officers trained on and equipped with all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) for regular patrolling of the many trails within the park, would make it safer for all who use it. Even a shopping mall has its own security base – why not one of our city’s largest public attractions?

In other words, if it’s such a necessary step after a woman is attacked, why not make it permanent in an effort to prevent future attacks?

Apart from an increase in police, the city needs to do a better job of keeping the streetlights in and around Forest Park in proper working condition. We have been reporting major outages in well-trafficked areas and there does not appear to be any sense of urgency to get them repaired.

During the early morning hours on Forest Park Drive, we have seen people walking or jogging carrying flashlights, meaning the lights have been out long enough for people to learn that they need to come prepared.

Ultimately, there is no one to blame for these attacks apart from the sick animal that commits them. He will be caught, though whatever punishment he receives will never be enough. But that does not mean we can’t take precautions so as not to give this animal any tactical advantages.

Whenever possible, try not to run or walk alone. Reach out to friends and neighbors; try to make it a social activity that can be enjoyed as a group. Avoid isolated trails; remember that you do not have to go deep into the park to be alone and that just because you can see a main road from the woods does not mean that people traveling on that road can see you.

Forest Park is a wonderful place that hosts many thousand residents and visitors each year. Let’s all do everything we can to make it the safest experience possible.

Edward K. Wendell
President
Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association


Video via YouTube/Edward Wendell

 

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Forest Park rape suspect tied to five additional sexual assaults


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

suspect

Police have connected the suspect wanted in a Forest Park rape last month to five more sexual assaults in the same area.

The NYPD, which released a new sketch of the suspect Thursday, said the man allegedly attacked six different females, ranging from ages 13 to 69, between March 2011 and this August.

The latest assault occurred around 4:30 p.m. on August 26, according to police, when the victim, a 69-year-old woman, while jogging through the park, was approached by the suspect, who tasered and pushed her to the ground before raping her.

He is also accused of attempting to rape a 54-year-old jogger on March 25, 2011 in the park, and a 13-year-old on September 7 of the same year near Park Lane and Myrtle Avenue. Both incidents occurred in the morning.

The suspect allegedly then groped a 34-year-old woman at the corner of Woodhaven Boulevard and Park Lane South around 1 p.m. on August 15, 2012.

Later that year, on November 28, he also assaulted another woman. The 40-year-old victim, who was jogging with her dog, was approached by the suspect who touched her with his exposed genitalia.

On March 23 of this year, the suspect allegedly struck a 23-year-old woman with a stun gun and then tried to rape her in Forest Park.

A person was arrested for that sexual assault, but police later said they had the wrong man.

The suspect is described as white, 30 to 40 years old, 5 feet 9 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall, with light brown hair and clean shaven. He was wearing a black t-shirt and black sweat pants during the August 26 incident.

A $22,000 reward has been offered for information in the case.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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Cops seek suspect in Forest Park rape


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Last updated Tuesday, September 3

Police are looking for the man they say tasered and pushed a woman to the ground before raping her in Forest Park.

The attack happened around 4:30 p.m. on Monday, August 26 when the victim, a 69-year-old woman, while jogging through the park, was approached by the suspect.

The victim was taken to Queens Hospital Center, where she was treated and released.

Police describe the perpetrator as white, 30 to 40 years 0ld, 5 feet 9 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall, with light brown hair and clean shaven. He was wearing a black t-shirt and black sweat pants.

A $22,ooo reward has been offered for information in the case. The city of New York is offering $10,000, the NYPD is paying a $10,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest and conviction of the suspect, and Crime Stoppers is offering an additional $2,000 for an arrest and indictment.

The NYPD has increased patrols in and around the park as cops look for the alleged rapist.

In March, a 23-year-old woman was struck with a stun gun and then sexually assaulted in the park.

A person was arrested, but police later said they had the wrong man.

At the time, park security was increased following the incident and police presence was felt in the days after the attack.

Police are still investigating and could not confirm a connection between the two sexual assaults.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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Art gives Queens students a voice


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

Queens artists are blossoming in borough elementary schools.

The LeAp public art program took two schools under its wing to help students make large-scale pieces and present them to the community. The works, by pupils from P.S. 9 and P.S. 75, took on current issues such as gun violence and global warming. They went on display at Juniper Valley Park and Forest Park.

“I am so proud of our students,” said program director Alexandra Leff, adding they “have been extremely brave in taking on major issues in such thoughtful, meaningful and beautiful ways.”

The students worked in groups to transform plain lunch tables into works of art relating to social issues. They crafted 3D pieces and other creations.

“My table sent a message to a lot of people,” said Jerome John, a seventh grader at P.S. 75. “It can touch a lot of people’s lives.”

John added that LeAp helped him reach a level of drawing and writing he “never knew” before.

The showcase will continue throughout the five boroughs as part of the largest student art exhibition in the history of city parks. Other issues such as bullying and drugs will be addressed through the students’ pieces.

“It’s time that young people have a voice in their community,” Leff said. “I hope the public will travel to see what young people have expressed on topics we all face every day.”

 

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What to do this weekend in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

Saturday, June 15

Come get your hands dirty at the MillionTreesNYC Tree Care Workshop and Care Day and learn about the stewardship and care it takes to keep our city green. The workshop focuses on caring for and watering the 80,000 newly planted street trees around NYC and meets at the intersection of Putnam and Forest Avenues at 10 a.m. and runs until noon. Children are welcome but must be accompanied. Visit www.milliontreesnyc.org to register or call 212-360-1342.

The Noguchi Museum is inviting families to come and participate in a series of hands-on workshops. The program is from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and costs $10 per family. Families of up to four with children from 5-11 can pre-register by calling 718-204-7088 ext. 203 or e-mail education@noguchi.org.

The Voelker Orth Museum is hosting its monthly Storybook Discovery Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon. The museum hosts a storybook-themed activity day for children 6 and under to celebrate the love of books. Each session includes an art or nature activity. There is a suggested contribution of $2. For more information, visit the museum’s website at www.vomuseum.org or call 718-359-6227.

From now through the end of August, The Louis Armstrong House Museum will be hosting an exclusive exhibit: Swingin’ with the AllStars: Louis Armstrong and Baseball. Located at 34-56 107th Street in Corona, the museum is offering free entrance to the exhibit with the price of admission, which is $10, or $7 for seniors, students, and children. The exhibit focuses on Armstrong’s fascination with baseball and features several photos and artifacts sequencing the jazz legend’s involvement with the New York’s top players during the height of his fame. The museum is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and from noon – 5 p.m. on weekends. For more information or to book a group tour visit www.LouisArmstrongHouse.org or call 718-478-8274.

Sunday, June 16

Nothing says summer like experiencing the open water in NYC. Join the Urban Park Rangers for their intermediate canoeing workshop at Bayswater Park. For ages eight and up, participants will meet at Bay 35th Street and Beach Channel Drive. Some experience is preferred, but not required. The Urban Rangers will take you on the waters of lakes, bays, and rivers. For details call 718-846-2731 or visit www.nycgovparks.org.

From 11 a.m. -1 p.m. and from 3-5 p.m., the Big Apple Circus will be dazzling audiences with its array of old-fashioned circus acts. From jugglers, clowns, and bicycle tricks to contortionists, horses, and men flying on the trapeze, the show is sure to please, as it has for years. The circus will take place in the Big Top at Cunningham Park located at 196-22 Union Turnpike. Tickets are starting at $20. More information is available at 888-541-3750 or by visiting the event’s page at www.nycgovparks.org.

Come and enjoy the sounds of your favorite soul and R&B classic at an outdoor performance in Forest Park.  Starting at 5 p.m., the Magic of Motown will be hosted in the George Seuffert Bandshell at Forest Park. Visit www.nycgovparks.org for more details