Tag Archives: LIC

LIC Arts Open to celebrate fifth year


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Junenoire Fonte

Long Island City is coming together next month to celebrate the art scene that grows every day throughout the western Queens neighborhood.

The LIC Arts Open — a five-day extravaganza where over 500 artists are expected to occupy galleries and other local spaces and open their studios to visitors — will celebrate its fifth year and hopes to work with real estate companies to help keep artists in the neighborhood.

“We’re really proud to have reached year five and I think that we did not really envision it when we first started,” said Richard Mazda, festival director. “We [started] something that even in the first year became much bigger than we thought it would.”

The festival, running from May 13 through 17, began as a two-day, open-studio event mainly showcasing visual artists. However, in its fifth year, the event now features works from visual artists, performers, musicians and so much more.

This year the festival will span 60 locations, and over 200 artists will open up their studios on Saturday, May 16, and Sunday, May 17, from noon to 6 p.m. to share their work with visitors. For the first time, there will be a preview of open studios located in the Court Square area on Friday, May 15, from 5 to 7 p.m.

Sculpture by Jack Howard-Potter at last year's LIC Arts Open.

Sculpture by Jack Howard-Potter at last year’s LIC Arts Open.

“The initial inspiration for the festival was because Queens has one of the largest concentrations of artists of any borough in New York and maybe it’s the largest concentration of artists in the country. It just hasn’t been talked about much,” Mazda said. “We have a lot of the major cultural institutions in Queens so the festival was sort of inspired by the idea that it was time to shine a light on the immense talent that is here.”

Mazda also added that there is some concern surrounding the real estate boom occurring in the neighborhood, but he plans to work with real estate property companies to “remind them that artists are a valuable component when marketing the area.”

A head sculpture made from trash bags by Beth Williams.

A head sculpture made from trash bags by Beth Williams.

The festival is working with companies such as Jamestown, which owns the Falchi Building located at 31-00 47th Ave., to showcase art shows during the LIC Arts Open.

The idea of the five-day event is also to take over buildings and spaces that are not traditional gallery locations, and create pop-up art galleries and art shows introducing the community to these industrial spaces.

Another highlight of the festival includes neighborhood nights out, where each night is dedicated to a specific area of Long Island City such as Vernon Boulevard/Jackson Avenue, Dutch Kills or Court Square.

A fundraiser will be held on May 5 at the home of LIC photographer Orestes Gonzalez. During the garden party, awards will be given to Harriet Taub, executive director of Material For the Arts, and sculptor Eliot Lable.

Map of participating venues for this year’s LIC Arts Open.

The LIC Arts Open will come to an end during a closing party at the Court Square Studios, located at 2138 44th Rd., on May 17 featuring a special concert version of the musical “Hair,” a silent auction of about 100 art pieces on 10-by-10 canvases, and performance from the Astoria band 2/3 Goat.

Every event throughout the festival is free and open to the public. For the latest updates visit licartsopen.org.

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LIC Flea & Food celebrates grand reopening this weekend


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

Spring is finally here and what better way to celebrate the warmer weather than to take a trip down to the LIC Flea & Food.

The popular Long Island City flea market, located at an outdoor lot by the waterfront at the corner of Fifth Street and 46th Avenue, will kick off its third season on Saturday, April 11, with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11 a.m.

“We are thrilled to kick off our third season of LIC Flea & Food bringing together amazing vendors and the community for both our outdoor season and indoor holiday market,” said LIC Flea & Food President Joshua Schneps. “We look forward to a great season ahead and offering a place for visitors to come for the day to enjoy the flea, the waterfront park, surrounding businesses and all that Long Island City has to offer.”

Items for sale at the market include food and drinks, collectibles, antiques, arts and crafts, handcrafted jewelry and fashion, and much more.

Along with over 80 vendors each day, the market will also have a beer garden, exclusively serving beers brewed in Queens from local breweries including Rockaway Brewery, Queens Brewery, Finback and SingleCut. The bar will also offer a great selection of wines.
LIC Flea & Food will run every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., through the end of October.

For updates on the LIC Flea & Food market, follow on Facebook.com/LICFlea, Instagram.com/LICFlea and @LICFlea on twitter.

Applications from potential vendors for the new season are still being accepted by registering online at www.licflea.com.

Here’s the list of vendors that will be at the market for opening weekend:

As I See It
Bad Nana
Balance Center Harmony
Bao Shoppe (The)
Breads & Spreads, LLC
Bull Dog Burgery
Bundts NYC
Butcher Bar
CakeBox NYC
Catharsis Co.
Ceil Witherspoon
Cait’s Carnivores
Chuta Madre!
Creations by Cameca, LLC
Cris Pietro Designs
Curry Station
Czechout Jewelry
Damian Rivera
Drink More Good
East Coast Roast, Inc.
Emily Militano
Esta-Joy’s Kitchen
Hanks Juicy Beef
Heart & Soul Foods
Himalayan Collections (The)
House Project (The)
Jack ‘n Pack
Jessy’s Pastries
Jewelry by Anna Harper
Kati Shack
Khao Man Gai
Krista Stained Glass
Lady V’Second Time Around
Lizzmonade LLC
LodestarNYC Jewelry
Lucy & Leo
Luke’s Lobster
Lumpia Merienda
Miriam Vargas
Miroslava Palavicini Leather Belts
Mizudama
mmm enfes Turkish Food
Mountain Side Crafts
Nighthawk’s Kitchen
No Fork
Nomad Truck
Oconomi
Paris Images Screen Printing
Pickle Me Pete
PDA Planters
Queen Tut Creationz
Queens3
QueensPopPhoto
Rice and Chopsticks
Rita’s Water Ice
Roobrics
Sac’s Pizza Place
Sam’s Ice Cream
Sensational Sauces
Seoul Pancake
Siggy Parker’s General Store
Southern Wheel Eats
Steve Reid
StuffedNYC
SunsTruck
SupremeLuv
Tea n’ Milk
Tikka Pops
Ukuva iAfrica USA, INC.
Village Peddlers
Vivian Jewelry Corp
Volpe Vintage
We See Stars
Woops!
Yadviga -Candles
Yankee Doodle Dandys
Tik Kitchen
Toy Room Treasures
Yuyi Love Works

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Community project ideas on display at Sunnyside participatory budgeting expo


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Residents in the 26th City Council District got the chance to view project proposals that will be put to a public vote later this month during Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s participatory budgeting (PB) project expo Monday night at Sunnyside Community Services.

“This is a chance for residents of this district to really get a visual of the projects that are going to be on the ballot a week from now,” explained Amanda Nasner, PB delegate and Special Projects representative from Van Bramer’s office. “This is just a good visual to help people get excited about participatory budgeting.”

Van Bramer is one of 24 City Council members who have each allocated $1 million in discretionary funds for public improvement projects aimed at helping the community. Budget delegates from District 26—which encompasses all or parts of Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside—showcased their project ideas through vibrant displays and posters.

Many of the project proposals called for improvements to the district’s schools. Jennifer Munoz, a sophomore at the Academy of American Studies, advocated for much-needed auditorium repairs at Newcomers High School in Dutch Kills. At 15, Munoz is one of the youngest budget delegates in the district.

According to Munoz, the Academy of American Studies and Newcomers High School share the same auditorium. The project would replace the auditorium seating and upgrade the sound system at a projected cost of $250,000.

“Basically, the auditorium is being used a lot, so we need to fix it up,” Munoz explained. “They have broken chairs, so we’re trying to get them fixed.”

Other proposed school improvement projects include the installation of security cameras outside Bryant High School, resurfacing the P.S. 112 playground, and a series of technology upgrades at P.S./I.S. 78, P.S. 11, I.S. 204, P.S. 166, P.S. 12 and Aviation High School.

Woodside resident Tom Ryan and his daughter Katherine spoke in favor of the Woodside Reforestry project, which would fund the planting of Parks Department-approved trees along both sides of Broadway, from 48th Street to 69th Street, at a cost of $200,000.

“There are no trees there. It’s barren,” Ryan said. According to Ryan, both he and his fellow Northern Woodside Coalition members would assume the responsibility of watering and caring for the trees.

Miki Bairstow, a delegate from the Housing Committee, was on hand to advocate for six project ideas, including the installation of security cameras and playground upgrades at the Queensbridge, Ravenswood and Woodside Houses.

Kenny Medrano presented four project proposals on behalf of the Library Committee, including the installation of ADA-compliant push-button access for handicapped and wheelchair-bound patrons at both the Sunnyside and Woodside public library branches.

Several delegates proposed transportation improvements throughout the district. Nancy Silverman spoke in favor of a $55,000 proposal to provide seniors at the Jacob Riis Settlement House in Queensbridge with a 10-passenger van for day trips and various group outings. Ray Johnson and his fellow Transportation Committee delegates advocated for the $500,000 LIC Bikeway, the installation of bus bulbs at 31st Street and five real-time passenger information countdown clocks at bus stops district-wide.

Residents will vote for their favorite projects between April 11 to 19 at various locations throughout the district. Click here for details.

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LIC Flea & Food to kick off new season with ribbon cutting ceremony


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Bradley Hawks

With only two weekends until the grand opening day at the LIC Flea & Food, there are many vendors to make sure you check out when taking the trip down to the market.

The popular Long Island City flea market, located at an outdoor lot by the waterfront at the corner of Fifth Street and 46th Avenue, will reopen on Saturday, April 11.

Items for sale include food and drinks, collectibles, antiques, arts and crafts, handcrafted jewelry and fashion, and much more.

There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 11 at 11 a.m. at the entrance of the market located at 5-25 46th Ave. to officially start the season.

LIC Flea & Food will run every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., through the end of October.

Applications from potential vendors for the new season are still being accepted by registering online at www.licflea.com.

1. Rita’s NYC
At Rita’s NYC, their tag line is happiness. They have the freshest and highest-quality ices in a variety of delicious, natural flavors to choose from. Stop by and see for yourself for the first time at the LIC Flea & Food and they promise your first visit won’t be your last. The dose of happiness will vary as the flavors do every weekend, but their promise of happiness is one that they always keep. As a Rita’s guest your happiness is their number one priority. They always greet you with a friendly smile and serve you in a New York minute.

2. Curry Station
Curry Station brings the Malaysian experience from the home to the streets of New York. With mom’s mouthwatering curry sauce, it will be cooked with fish balls, chicken and shrimp. While enjoying one (or all) of these spicy dishes, have a sip of Curry Station’s refreshing Barley Drink. Their sauce and barley drinks are all homemade so come out and have a taste!

3. Lady V Second Time Around
An original vintage and vintage-inspired fashion clothing shop with shoes, handbags, accessories and collectibles known for her high-energy personality and style. “We are affordable and sell quality vintage and repurposed clothing.” Each item is coupled with a signature positive affirmation message.

4. Seoul Pancake
Seoul Pancake is the premier source for the best authentic Korean cuisine in New York. Send your palate on a journey with the scallion and kimchi pancakes, then wash it down with a cool, refreshing sikhye. All selections are homemade from family recipes and come either vegan-friendly or with a selection of delectable meats and cheeses — all guaranteed to please.

5. Stern Design Works
Stern Design Works was founded eight years ago by husband-and-wife team Cameron and Rebecca Stern with the mission of creating thought-provoking jewelry and small form sculpture revolving around themes including science, history, technology and the realm of fantasy. Their work is based in traditional metalsmithing, mixed with more modern methods such as in-house digital design/3D printing and bio-plastic resins.

6. Siggy Parker’s General Store
Pickers, collectors and purveyors of unique and fun items — Siggy Parker’s General Store out of Cape Fear, North Carolina, has something for just about everyone. They travel across the country looking for what they like to call “vintage funk and fine junk,” and they don’t like to specialize in any one thing. Siggy Parker’s always packs its booth full of vintage bicycles, furniture, clothes, skateboards, retro kitsch, magazines, rock ‘n’ roll, movie memorabilia and so much more.

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Brooklyn man convicted of causing wild car chase through Long Island City


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

File photo

Jurors convicted a Brooklyn man Wednesday on assault and other charges for leading officers on a wild pursuit through Long Island City and Manhattan last June, prosecutors announced.

Maurice McArthur, 27, was found guilty of second-degree assault, third-degree unlawful fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle, reckless endangerment, obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest after a two-week jury trial before Judge Robert C. Kohm.

McArthur faces up to seven years behind bars when he is sentenced on April 28, according to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

Authorities said the trouble began at about 7:30 p.m. on June 4, 2014, when McArthur — while speeding in a 1996 Ford Taurus southbound on 11th Street — nearly struck an unmarked police van as he was turning eastbound onto 40th Avenue.

When the officers attempted to pull him over, McArthur ignored them and turned onto 21st Street, according to prosecutors. Police pursued McArthur as he eventually made his way onto the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan.

After leaving the bridge he continued driving erratically, weaving in and out of traffic, briefly driving onto a sidewalk and striking a vehicle in the process, sources said. He then returned to the Queensboro Bridge and traveled back into Queens.

McArthur reportedly stopped at Thomson Avenue, then jumped out of the car and ran eastbound toward Queens Boulevard, where police apprehended him.

Two officers suffered minor injuries while attempting to take McArthur into custody, prosecutors said.

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Three NYC college students move forward in Red Bull’s worldwide paper plane competition


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Red Bull FMS, Alli Brodsky

A trio of New York City college students got their wings this past weekend in Long Island City and only plan on aiming higher.

Over 500 students from seven city universities and colleges gathered on March 29 at Studio Square in LIC to vie for a spot in the worldwide competition called Red Bull Paper Wings.

The participants were asked to create paper planes out of material provided during the day of the competition, which was judged by professional skydiver and Red Bull athlete Jeff Provenzano.

Out of the hundreds which represented schools such as Manhattan College, and New York, Columbia, St. John’s, Hofstra, Fordham, and Rutgers universities, three came out victorious.

David Sander from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute won Longest Airtime with four seconds, Kevin Maghami from NYU Medical won Best Aerobatics with a score of 29 out of 30 points from judges, and Anthony Giacomelli won Longest Distance with 69 feet.

These students’ times will now be compared to others in the region. A total of 12 winners – made up of the top in each category per region – will be selected in two weeks as finalists and get to attend Red Bull’s World Finals in Salzburg, Austria on May 8 and 9.

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More Queens Library locations loaning mobile hot spots, tablets


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Library

Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card, and now more cardholders will be able to stay connected while on the go.

The Queens Library announced Tuesday that it will be expanding its mobile technology lending program in the upcoming weeks to more libraries throughout the borough.

While using their Queens Library cards, customers will be able to borrow free mobile hot spots, providing Internet access anywhere to any Wi-Fi-enabled devices with cellphone reception. Customers will also have the chance to borrow free Google Nexus tablets.

The hot spots are available for one month, and there are three renewals available afterwards. First-time hot spot borrowers will have to sign an agreement and bring a photo ID.

Locations that have been offering the free mobile hot spots and tablets since last year include branches at 89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica; 1637 Central Ave., Far Rockaway; 108-19 71st Ave., Forest Hills; 41-17 Main St., Flushing; and 35-51 81st St., Jackson Heights.

The new locations offering the hot spots include 214-20 Northern Blvd. in Bayside and 37-44 21st St. in Long Island City. They will also be available at the branch at 218-13 Linden Blvd. in Cambria Heights starting April 8; 193-20 Horace Harding Expressway in Fresh Meadows on April 15; and 169-09 137th Ave. in Rochdale Village on April 22.

The Google Nexus tablets are now available at Queens Library branches at 2012 Madison St. in Ridgewood; 128-16 Rockaway Blvd. in South Ozone Park; and 169-09 137th Ave. in Rochdale Village. Starting later this month, the tablets will be available at the following locations: 187-05 Union Turnpike in Hillcrest; 103-34 Lefferts Blvd. in Richmond Hill; and the Langston Hughes Community Library at 100-01 Northern Blvd.

A full list of borrowing sites is available at www.queenslibrary.org.

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Coyote discovered on roof of Long Island City bar


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Brian Porter/Laura Süpper

Updated 1:55 p.m.

BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ANGY ALTAMIRANO 

A “well-fed” coyote made its way onto the roof of a Long Island City bar Monday morning before escaping into a nearby building, according to witnesses.

The establishment’s owner, Brian Porter of LIC Bar, received a text message and photo that morning from a tenant above the bar alerting him to the wild animal.

When he arrived at the 45-58 Vernon Blvd. bar and saw the coyote hanging out beneath his air conditioning unit, he immediately noticed it looked liked a “well-fed animal.”

“It stood out that this animal, this coyote was pretty big. And it didn’t look like he was hungry,” he said.

Porter called police and animal control was contacted, and they tried to capture the coyote with tranquilizer guns and catching poles. A veterinarian from a nearby clinic also went up to inspect, thinking the animal might be a dog, but quickly backed off once she saw it wasn’t one.

Photo by Paula Kirby

Photo by Paula Kirby

The animal eventually escaped into a window of the old Paragon Paint building, according to Porter, who believes the coyote got onto the roof by coming through a broken window of that building, which is adjacent to his bar.

He doesn’t know how the animal wandered into the neighborhood, but insists the rooftop visit wasn’t a clever publicity move.

That evening The Coyote Anderson Quartet was scheduled to perform at LIC Bar.

“It would be a little bit of a stretch if I was trying to pull that off as a PR stunt,” Porter said.

And even though the animal caused some chaos on Monday, this isn’t the first time a coyote has made it into the Big Apple.

Recent sightings of the four-legged animal go back to last year when a park-goer spotted a coyote in the Bronx, according to the NY Daily News. Another coyote was caught in January as it found itself trapped in an Upper West Side basketball court, according to the New York Post.

Coyotes started to be seen in northern New York in the 1930s, according to The New York Times, and by 1994 were noticed in the Bronx.

According to Park officials, three Bronx parks are now each home to a coyote family and there is a solitary coyote permanently living in Railroad Park in Jamaica, The Times said.

The Parks Department now plans to educate the public by posting fliers and distributing cards that outline “Five Easy Tips for Coyote Coexistence,” The Times reported. Some tips include not feeding the coyotes, storing food and garbage in animal-proof containers, and if approached by one you should “act big and make loud noises.”

Mary Pearl, the provost at Macaulay Honors College, who has a doctorate in wildlife biology, said coyotes can thrive in human habitation.

“They can eat everything and anything,” she said, including pet food, rodents, stray cats and dogs, and even berries and insects in the spring and summer.

Pearl, noting that a witness said the animal looked far from scrawny, said March and April was birthing season, and the building may be a good retreat for an expectant mother. But she added male coyotes can travel great distances.

Her best guess was that the coyote found its way to Long Island City via railroad tracks or possibly a parkway.

Despite recent sightings in the city, Pearl cautions that they are not infestation, since the creatures distribute themselves sparsely, and the animals help our ecosystem by getting rid of rodents and roadkill.

“Too often we have a response when we see wildlife in our midst that they should be removed,” she said.

“[Coyotes] don’t inundate a place, but it’s just surprising.”

Field staff from the Animal Care & Control of NYC visited the location, spoke to a witness and searched the area, but no additional sightings have been reported. Coyote sightings should be reported to 311, and but any animal “presenting imminent public safety risk” should be reported to 911.

Members of the community are being advised that if they come in contact or see the animal they should call the police immediately and not attempt to capture it.

Officers out of the 108th Precinct have been instructed to remain vigilant for the coyote while they are on patrol.

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Funny food art at LIC’s Falchi Building


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Image © Bill Wurtzel funnyfoodart.com

FROM BOROMAG.COM

Visitors to the Falchi Building’s Food Fox in Long Island City only have a few months remaining to enjoy the whimsical creations on display by renowned jazz guitarist Bill Wurtzel. Bill has been making artistic, healthy breakfasts just to amuse his wife, Claire, since they were married in 1961. Their book, “Funny Food,” is in its second printing, and a new book is being published by Rizzoli International. “I only started photographing my food art seven years ago,” explains Bill. “Since then I made about 7,000 dishes.”  We wondered what a typical dinner might look like in the Wurtzel home, and Bill shared, “Our 50th anniversary was a brunch and all guests were invited to make Funny Food.”

Click here for the full story

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Astoria band wants to rock Queens with first EP


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Susan DiBello

Some things are just meant to be and are destined to come together — and in the case of Megan DiBello and Colin Clough, one encounter over a bummed cigarette has transformed into a perfect musical match.

DiBello and Clough are the creative minds behind the Astoria-based band Rocco & Lizzie, which is set to release its first EP titled “#SOMETHINGFOREVERYONE” on April 1 at the LIC Bar.

The two Astoria residents and poets met three years ago in Manhattan when DiBello asked for a cigarette from Clough. This led to a next-day brunch invite and a 7-hour phone call, and although Clough returned to his home in Virginia, by mid-2014 he made the move to New York.

Since then, the two have come together to create music. DiBello is the main lyricist of the duo and Clough composes the music on various instruments.

The name of the band comes from DiBello’s middle name, Elizabeth (“Lizzie”), which she said is the “sweet and nice” part of the group, while the name “Rocco” represents Clough and his more intense nature.

“They’re our personalities,” DiBello said of the names. “They are the driving forces of this album.”

Although their Facebook page categorizes them in the post-punk and rock genres, DiBello added that their music differs from song to song.

With the band’s heavy community involvement – writing the music in Queens, recording the EP at the Continental Recording Studio in Long Island City and constantly supporting the local music and literary community – she said she would call their music “Queens Rock.”

“I never heard of it, but I think it would be really cool,” she said of the new genre. “We’re a rock band but there are so many different levels, every song is very different.”

At the moment, the band consists of primarily DiBello and Clough, with contributions on the EP by guitarist and bassist Shako and drummer Tony Shing Siu Sze. However, the duo hopes to soon find a permanent bassist and drummer. 

DiBello added that the music on the EP, which will consist of five tracks, shares their personal stories. For example, a song called “Jonsey Boy” talks about the transition of a boy making a move, just like Clough made the move from Virginia to New York. 

“If you want people to buy it, you have to give them the reason why,” DiBello said. “We’re really living the story. [The music] is unique and completely community driven. And for myself, it’s some of the best poetry I’ve written in my life. They’re all stories about how we live.”

After the debut of their EP, plans are to release 14 more tracks by the end of the summer while also trying to play a lot of shows. They hope to perform during musical festivals and even have ideas of potentially starting their own music label to help others share their passion.

“We have a message. We want to show people that you can overcome any adversity in life as long as you’re passionate,” DiBello added.

Rocco & Lizzie’s EP release show will be at the LIC Bar, located at 45-58 Vernon Blvd., on April 1 at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

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NYC college students to vie for spot in Red Bull’s worldwide paper plane competition


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


New York City college students are getting wings this weekend in Long Island City.

On Sunday, over 250 students from seven city universities and colleges will try to earn a spot in the worldwide competition called Red Bull Paper Wings.

Participants from Manhattan College, and New York, Columbia, St. John’s, Hofstra, Fordham, and Rutgers universities will get together at Studio Square to create paper planes and compete to join 75 other students from around the nation in May at Red Bull’s competition in Austria.

Students from the schools can sign up at www.redbullpaperwings.com and on Sunday will receive the materials to build their planes on-site.

Professional skydiver and Red Bull athlete Jeff Provenzano will be judging the competition to see which design goes the farthest.

The event will take place Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. on the fifth floor event space at Studio Square, located at 35-44 37th St.

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LIC teens move on to robotics world championship


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of RoboTigers

One group of tigers from Long Island City has shown that they are fierce and on the way to the top.

The robotics team at Queens Vocational and Technical High School called “RoboTigers” and their robot “Based-God Trap Love” became Regional Winners at last weekend’s NYC FIRST 15th Annual Robotics NYC Regional Competition & Expo at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan.

Becoming Regional Winners means the team, made up of 32 students from the Long Island City high school ranging from freshmen to seniors, will be heading to the FIRST World Championship on April 22 to 25 in St. Louis, Missouri.

“It was a great experience, I never expected it to be like that,” said Maricarmen Ramirez, a 15-year-old sophomore in her first year on the team who worked in creating the robot in 3D. “I met a lot of people and it was a lot of fun.”

Based-God Trap Love on the field.

The “RoboTigers” were one of more than 160 teams, including New York and international teams, to compete during the event that took place from March 13 to 15.

According to Peter Beninati, one of the mentors on the team, the team has grown from six students when it started a few years ago to over 30 this year. Beninati was a team member and student at the school when the team took home a win in 2009.

“Every year we’re growing,” Beninati said. “Winning in 2009 and going to competition as a student made me realize that every student should have the opportunity to be on the team and see what it has to offer.”

During the competition, students had to battle with their custom-built robots and try to come on top during specific challenges throughout the weekend.

“I wasn’t expecting [the win]. We had mixed emotions throughout the day. It was quite surprising that we were able to make it on top,” said ninth-grader Toma Suciu, who works as a programmer on the team. “It’s definitely an interesting experience and I’m able to take in all the information around me and hopefully apply that to a future career.”

Queens Vocational and Technical High School’s Principal Melissa Burg said she is proud to see how far the students went during the competition and sees the team building and problem solving as important aspects that the students will be able to carry with them even after graduating.

“I go to the matches and support them and get excited and I love to watch them get excited,” Burg said. “The joy on their faces when they win is amazing.”

The “RoboTigers” were not the only Queens team to move on forward; the “Steel Hawks” from Townsend Harris High School in Flushing won the Engineering Inspiration Award and will also be heading to the world championship.

The Long Island City students will also be heading to the 16th Annual SBPLI Long Island Regional FIRST Robotics Competition on March 27 at Hofstra University.

“These students have worked so hard to get to the competition, from researching real-world programs to designing new inventions through robotics and using the engineering skills they’ve acquired,” said Pat Daly, executive director of NYC FIRST. “Year after year, we see the positive impact our programs have had on the lives of these students, and it’s beyond rewarding to see their excitement and passion develop with each season.”

NYC FIRST is the city-based nonprofit affiliate of FIRST, the international nonprofit mentoring organization created to get young people excited about science and technology.

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Community feedback leads to permanent bus service expansion along Vernon Boulevard


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

As they say, ask and you shall receive. Due to an immense amount of support from community members, it will now be easier to access the western Queens waterfront.

The MTA announced on Friday that weekend and increased weeknight service on the Q103 route, which runs down Vernon Boulevard between Astoria and Long Island City, will be permanently added after a successful pilot program started last June.

The service additions made during the experimental program include extending weeknight hours from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., and adding service on Saturdays and Sundays from about 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

During a public hearing in December on the increased service, community support was unanimous, according to the MTA.

Local leaders and business owners saw the need to expand the Q103’s service as crucial to the growing neighborhoods, which have seen a rise in new residential developments and expanded cultural attractions.

Some of the cultural spots that the bus serves include the Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park.

“I am thrilled the MTA heeded my call to make Q103 service expansion permanent. Western Queens has long needed better bus service, so it is gratifying that the MTA responded to our concerns,” state Senator Michael Gianaris said. “There is so much happening throughout western Queens that our need for better methods of traveling between our neighborhoods has never been more pressing. This service expansion represents a hard-fought victory, but I will never stop fighting for improved transit service in our community.”

The Q103 bus line also serves as the public’s only option to connect areas to subway stations such as the F line at 21 St–Queensbridge and the 7 line at Vernon Blvd–Jackson Av.

During the pilot program, ridership levels increased by 6.8 percent on weekdays compared to the five-month period before the trial, and by 30 percent compared to average weekday use in 2012, the MTA said. Currently weekday ridership is 1,100 customers, the average Saturday ridership is about 300, and on Sundays it is about 250.

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Suspect punches LIC construction worker, steals tools: NYPD


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

A robber surprised a construction worker while he was at a job site in Long Island City last week, punching the man before taking off with his tools, police said.

The 29-year-old victim was working at a Euda Construction Company site located on 10th Street near 38th Avenue just after 2 p.m. on March 12 when the suspect approached him, cops said.

The suspect, who was pushing a grocery cart, then punched the construction worker, took a Hilti drill, Milwaukee camera and two nail guns, and fled.


Police have released video footage of the alleged robber and describe the man as black, about 6 feet tall and 200 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black hat, blue jeans and a brown coat.

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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Queens World Film Festival celebrates fifth year’s opening night


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

With the luck of the Irish, the Queens World Film Festival kicked off its fifth year of helping bring independent films to the big screen.

The six-day festival, which gives international and local filmmakers the opportunity to screen their films in Queens, celebrated its opening night on St. Patrick’s Day at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.

Opening night featured five films, including two from local Queens filmmakers Jamil Lahham and Lisa Melodia. The films ranged from animation to short narratives. The night also included a bonus screening of Sundance Film Festival-winning film “World of Tomorrow,” which filled the room with laughter.

“I love this film festival because I love Queens, and everything and anything that is good starts right here in my home borough of Queens County. We do it right,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. “I admire and respect and really have come to love Don and Katha Cato because you can tell they pour everything, their heart and soul, into this festival.”

The Queens World Film Festival, which will run through March 22, is organized by husband-and-wife duo of Don and Katha Cato, and this year will feature a total of 117 films, with 19 works from Queens. The films include feature narratives, documentaries and LGBT pieces.

Through the week, the films will be sorted out into different blocks based on subject and will be shown at venues such as The Secret Theatre in Long Island City, P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights and the Museum of the Moving Image.

“[Katha and Don] have literally catapulted this festival to heights that not many folks could have foreseen when they first started this,” said Borough President Melinda Katz. “Katha and Don and all the folks that are involved in the arts have truly been using the diversity that we bring to this borough to catapult us in tourism.”

Opening night also recognized director Leon Ichaso, known for movies such as “El Cantante,” “Ali” and “Hendrix,” as a “Spirit of Queens” honoree. Don Cato said Ichaso, who has been called the “poet of Latin New York,” was receiving the awards for his artistry, integrity and humanity.

The festival will also present Ichaso’s film “Bitter Sugar” on Wednesday at the Museum of the Moving Image.

“To all the filmmakers that are here please don’t lose the hope, it’s a hard world making movies,[but] it’s worth it,” Ichaso said. “It is festivals like this that in that journey we can take a rest, we can show what we do, we can meet each other and thank God they exist and thank God for the Queens World Film Festival.”

Closing night of the festival will feature a screening of the film “Dukhtar (Daughter)” by Afia Nathaniel, followed by an award ceremony at the Museum of the Moving Image.

“Experience these films during our festival, talk about them,” said Don at the end of the night. “The films are the stars of this festival.”

For a full schedule of the festival and to purchase tickets, visit www.queensworldfilmfestival.com.

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