Tag Archives: Randall’s Island

Queens kids compete in citywide track and field sports games

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos courtesy of City Parks Foundation

Children from Queens joined scores of kids from across New York City at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island for City Parks Foundation’s (CPF) 14th Annual CityParks Track & Field Citywide Championships on Aug. 12 for a day of healthy competition in a wide range of track and field events.

Over 2,000 kids, ages 5 to 16, broke off into teams to compete in several events over the course of the day including javelin, discus, shot put, triple jump, long jump, 400- and 800-meter runs, hurdles, a 4×100-meter relay, and the 100-meter dash.

Children with special needs participated in events including a 100-meter dash that included children in wheelchairs, as well as several other events. In addition, there was a “giant” relay race for runners ages 5 to 7. Championship medals were awarded at peewee, beginner and intermediate levels.

CityParks Track & Field, presented by EmblemHealth, offers free track and field instruction for children ages 5 to 16, with lessons held two times a week from July through August in parks across the city.

Through its partnership with EmblemHealth, CPF’s free annual youth track and field instruction also provides the children and their families with health tips including sun safety tips, hydration information, and other wellness information and special giveaways.

CPF is the only independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to offer programs in parks throughout the five boroughs. It works in more than 350 parks citywide, presenting a broad range of programs in an effort to promote healthy and vibrant communities, reaching 425,000 people each year.


Queens brothers responsible for this year’s Electric Zoo medical safety

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Courtesy of Electric Zoo

The safety of New York City’s largest electronic music festival is in the hands of two brothers from Flushing.

After two people died in drug-related events at last year’s Electric Zoo festival on Randall’s Island, the organizers are stepping up safety measures for this year’s festival on Labor Day weekend, according to the brothers Chaim and Alex Pollak.

Alex founded Paradocs three years ago and the company provides medical stand-bys for all kinds of events. This year they had medical tents at Governor’s Ball and a music show featuring Drake.

“They want to keep this festival in New York City,” Chaim said. “So they’re implementing new safety measures to prevent anything bad from happening this year and to keep the festival here.”

Alex and Chaim run Paradocs, a 3-year-old company that specializes in managing safety measures for large events like the Electric Zoo festival. Last year was their first time running the three-day electronic music event and on the first day of the show, Olivia Rotondo, 20, died, according to reports last year. The festivities continued and on the second day Jeffrey Russ, 23, died. Both of the revelers died from overdoses of MDMA or Molly. The organizers decided to stop the festival and not have a third day of music.

“When you have 80,000 people crammed into one place, things get complicated,”Chaim said.

Alex and Chaim hope to prevent deaths this year by using “Zoo Keepers,” among other initiatives.

These keepers are made up of younger people who will walk through the dance floors of the festival, looking for signs of dehydration and drug-induced distress.

The duo also plans on having about six safety tents with medical personnel and LED signs to clearly mark the safety areas.



Retired FDNY chief, Queens native named fire commissioner

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo: Ed Reed for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

Updated 7:55 p.m.

A retired FDNY chief and Whitestone resident has been tapped to lead the city’s fire department.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the appointment of Daniel Nigro as the new FDNY commissioner at the department’s academy on Randall’s Island Friday.

Nigro, 65, who was raised in Bayside, was named chief of department, the highest ranking uniformed position, in 2001 when Chief Peter Ganci Jr., was killed in the Word Trade Center collapse. He retired in 2002 after more than three decades with the FDNY.

The new commissioner will be tasked with bringing more diversity to the department after the city settled an FDNY racial discrimination suit with the Vulcan Society, an association of black firefighters, in March.

“We must no longer wait for a judge’s ruling to tell us what fairness means. We must get out front. We must point the way to change. There is no place in the fire department of our beautiful, diverse city, for injustice and inequality,” Nigro said.

During his time with the department, Nigro oversaw the 1996 merger of the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) into the FDNY. That experience was one reason behind de Blasio’s decision in naming Nigro to the position, according to the AP.

“From reducing EMS response time, to fixing our 911 call system, to increasing workforce diversity, especially in hiring more women—we have a lot to do in the fire department. I look forward to working with our new commissioner to make the necessary reforms to keep New Yorkers safe,” Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, chair of the Council’s Fire and Criminal Justice Committee, said in a statement.

Nigro is replacing Salvatore Cassano, who has served as FDNY commissioner since 2010.


The Avett Brothers’ Joe Kwon talks love of music, food

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo by Mike Valente

As he inspected a near-empty charcuterie plate, cellist Joe Kwon exhaled and said how much he enjoys the dish: toasted bread, Toscano salami, head cheese, chicken liver pate, mustard and red wine-glazed onions.

“I’d eat that every day if my doctor would let me,” he quipped.

While his livelihood is playing the cello for the Avett Brothers, a North Carolina-based hybrid folk band, Kwon has an equal passion for food – both eating and preparing it. Adventures in cooking, Kwon says, are another form of creativity for him. The experience is deeply rooted in his life.

Kwon recently sat down with The Courier at Alobar in Long Island City to discuss music, food, touring and everything in between. He had played the Governor’s Ball on nearby Randall’s Island the night before and was looking forward to going home to North Carolina for a week’s rest.

“I love coming here,” he said. “It’s one of those places where it’s so easy to get caught up in the New York lifestyle of going out, eating amazing food.”

Kwon runs a food blog while he’s on the road, “Taste, on Tour,” in which he’ll normally document his meals, but does not review them.

It’s a personal documentation that he can one day look back on to remember his travels.

The band – comprised of brothers Seth and Scott Avett and bassist Bob Crawford – normally tours on a bus without a kitchen, but that doesn’t stop them from preparing meals on smaller equipment.

“If there had to be one [chef], it would be me,” Kwon said, adding he’ll normally prepare dishes like guacamole as a post-show snack.

Kwon’s love affair with food goes deep into his roots of growing up in a large Korean immigrant family, where every weekend featured a family reunion sized meal. He grew up watching his mother and both grandmothers preparing these mega feasts.

As he went off to boarding school and then college, Kwon’s food budget shrunk, but his impromptu recipes blossomed. He got creative with Ramen noodles, adding easily accessible ingredients like cilantro and lime. Finding easy-to-make but enjoyable recipes has carried over to his tour life.

When he comes to town, wherever that may be, he said he dives where he can find a fair-priced meal that’s surprisingly well made. He recounted recently going to a place in SoHo he heard about that was essentially a hole-in-the-wall. He got a beer and a dozen top-notch oysters for roughly $12.

Other times, he enjoys meals that are so well assembled and so decadent that he’s left with a sense of guilt afterward.

Kwon said he recently ate at Per Se, in Manhattan, and described the experience as hard to categorize compared to other food he’s eaten.

He said he was shocked by the cost and fine quality.

“There was just a lot of thought put into the food,” he said. “You wonder how many people get to eat like this. How many people will ever get to eat like this? A lot of guilt goes into it.”

Kwon holds home-cooked meals near and dear to his heart. Even as he looks forward to his next trip to the beaches of eastern North Carolina, food is the top priority.

“I don’t even think about the beach so much as the seafood I’m going to make,” he said.

Kwon joined the Avett Brothers about six years ago, thanks to what he calls a dumb-luck meeting with Crawford, the bassist. He first recorded with them on the band’s 2007 album “Emotionalism” and was drawn to the energy both Avetts exhibited while performing.

Kwon’s signature feature among fans is his on-stage cello performance standing up, constantly moving and displaying the same amount of energy on stage. Kwon said playing cello while standing has proven to be difficult, citing callouses on his neck and shoulder from resting the cello. But he cannot sit with the band’s energy.

“The first time I ever played a show with the Avetts, I played sitting down for a total of like 20 seconds,” he said. “Then I was like, ‘Yup, there’s way too much energy going on right now. I can’t play sitting down.’”

As he sliced off another piece of head cheese, laid it on one side of the bread and smeared chicken pate on the other, Kwon recounted how he would be home the next morning.

The concept of home is something that runs deep with all the band members, in both their music and lyrics. Kwon, who doesn’t think of himself as famous, mentioned he hopes he never will be as he recounted the things he had to do when he got home.

There are bills to pay and housework, plenty of cooking and quality time with his girlfriend to get in.

“All those things, they’re creature comforts we don’t have on tour,” he said. “There’s something about having a glass of wine, sitting on the couch, watching our shows together. It’s a romanticized view in my head. I can’t wait to get back to it.”

As eager as he is to go home, thinking about being there is something he puts off until he arrives. Kwon said he tries to organize his life based on how many shows he has left. Otherwise he is home before he gets there, and his performing suffers as a result.

“That happens a lot at the end of the year when you’re thinking: two more shows, two more shows. Which is a terrible way to think about it, cause it’s like, ‘Well what if you die tonight?’ You never know,” he said. “Maybe this is the last show. Obviously, that’s a very dark and farfetched way to look at it, it’s just kind of one of those ways of dealing with that. Don’t think about getting home. Just think about what you have to do next. Home will come. It’ll be here soon.”