Tag Archives: rockaway beach

PHOTOS: First Poseidon Parade makes a splash in Rockaway Beach

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Sea-lovers of all ages donned a colorful array of costumes, fins and floats and strutted down the newly refurbished boardwalk during Rockaway Beach’s inaugural Poseidon Parade on Saturday.

The parade is the brainchild of the Rockaway Mermaid Brigade, the reigning Motorized Float champions at the Coney Island Mermaid Parade for the past two years. After representing the Rockaways for years at the iconic parade, the group was inspired to bring the fanfare and festivities to the shores of Queens.

“We’re honoring the ocean and artistic expression, like we experience each year in Coney Island,” wrote parade co-founder and 2015 Queen Mermaid Casey Brouder. “Poseidon is a symbol that speaks to the resilience of Rockaway. After all we have been through as a community, we can pay homage to the strong and beautiful ocean we can’t seem to live without.”

Adults and children masquerading as mermaids, sea creatures and pirates participated in the parade, with special prizes awarded for Best Bike, Best Baby Carriage and Best Pet. A post-parade celebration featuring face-painting and a DJ was held at the Beach 95th Street plaza.

The Poseidon Parade also included a tribute to Whalemina, the beloved whale sculpture and symbol of the Rockaways that was washed inland and shattered along Shore Parkway at the height of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

A large inflatable version of Whalemina was created by artist Geoff Rawling and anchored to a grassy spot near the boardwalk at Beach 95th Street for the duration of the parade. Parade goers posed for photos and were encouraged to sign the big balloon as a tribute to Whalemina.


Rockaway Beach residents Nicholas Rowe and Joshua Southerton are part of a group working to raise funds to replace the Whalemina sculpture. The new whale would also be created by Rawling, who also refurbished and redesigned the original Whalemina after she was brought to Rockaway Beach in the 1990s from the Central Park Zoo where she was previously known as Jonah.

“We’re trying to raise $20,000 so that we could have a new, permanent whale,” Southerton explained. “Once we do, we’re going to dismantle this whale and make it into a permanent mural for Rockaway Beach.”


Some of the Rockaway residents and members of the group working to recreate Whalemina pose in front of the inflatable version of the beloved whale.

Both Southerton and Rowe explained that they each still have a small piece of the original mosaic Whalemina sculpture found near their homes after the storm. Local author Laura Cryan even wrote a children’s book in Whalemina’s honor with artwork by Rawling.

“There’s been a whole lot of fundraising efforts,” Southerton added. “We’re really trying to pull the community together and bring back our whale.”


Rockaway Beach hosts inaugural Poseidon’s Parade on Saturday

| rmackay@queensny.org

Photo courtesy of Rockaway Dragonboat

Mermaids, dragons, seafarers, Greek deities and various forms of marine life will fill Rockaway Beach streets during the first-ever Poseidon’s Parade on Saturday, Sept. 19.

Scheduled to kick off at 11 a.m., this inaugural, family-friendly march will begin at the newly constructed boardwalk on Beach 106th Street and proceed to Beach 95th Street, where the Under the Sea Lounge will host a DJ, a Parks Department mobile playground, and other children’s activities. Plus, a pop-up market with local food and fashion vendors will run until 7 p.m.

Admittedly, this Queens pageant is lightly based on the flamboyant Mermaid Parade, which takes place at a nearby beach, Coney Island, every summer.

The organizers, the Rockaway Mermaid Brigade, got their inspiration after winning the Best Motorized Float award at the past two Brooklyn processions.

However, there won’t be many risqué costumes at this event, which will emphasize artistic expression.

A panel of judges will review the partakers with an eye on the craftsmanship and creativity of their ocean-themed costumes. The prize categories include Best Baby Carriage, Best Bicycle, Best Float, Best Pet, and Best Recycled Materials.

The prices are $5 per walker and $10 per float. Online registration is encouraged.

Photo courtesy of Rockaway Mermaid Brigade

Photo courtesy of Rockaway Mermaid Brigade


Rockaway Beach is abuzz with Honey Fest 2015 on Saturday

| rmackay@queensny.org

Photo courtesy of NYC Honey Week

It’s the sweetest celebration of the year.

With everything from beekeeping workshops to a buzz-generating parade, Honey Fest 2015 will swarm around the 86th Street Boardwalk in Rockaway Beach on Saturday, Sept. 12.

Scheduled to run from 11 a.m. until sunset, this fifth annual extravaganza will feature a special marketplace with more than two dozen vendors of beeswax-based products, monofloral honey, and beehive products.

Perennial favorites include Bees Knees Spicy Honey, Green Bee Craft Beverages, and Mizz Beehavin Apiary.

The parade is always full of colorful costumes and wacky characters. Plus, this year will re-introduce a free contest sponsored by the American Honey Tasting Society during which participants can savor different brands of the sweet syrup from a hosting station and vote for their favorites.

Meanwhile, children will be able to make bee hats with City Growers, study the honeybees’ role in pollination via an interactive booth by Arts In Parts, check out pollen with microscopes provided by The Bee Girl, who’ll travel all the way from Oregon, and explore a hive provided by BeeKind Farms.

Rockaway-based restaurants, such as Caracas Arepa Bar and Rippers, will provide victuals. (Rain date: September 13.)


Top spots for fun and food in Rockaway Beach

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso


While summer may be drawing to a close, there are still plenty of places to soak up the last of the summer rays here in Queens. In recent years, Rockaway Beach has battled back against the destruction left in the wake of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy to become one of the hippest, hottest communities along the shore.

Scores of landlocked urbanites have flocked to Riis Park and the Rockaway boardwalk in recent summers to escape the sweltering heat of the city.

Whether you are a lifelong local or a day-tripper, here are some of our picks for a day of food and fun in the Rockaways.

Rockaway Roasters
92-06 Rockaway Beach Blvd.

Owners Joe Mastey and Ziv Karasanti are two self-described “Rockaway surf bums” who have “traveled all over the world surfing and drinking coffee.” The duo opened Rockaway Roasters back in March as a way to introduce fresh, healthy food and drink alternatives to the usual beach fare. The gourmet coffee shop features locally roasted coffee blends from Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Beachgoers will want to try Rockaway Roasters’ special cold brew.

Photo courtesy of Rockaway Roasters

Photo courtesy of Rockaway Roasters

For those looking to avoid caffeine, the shop also offers a fully stocked organic fruit and vegetable juice bar, as well as protein shakes and smoothies. Rockaway Roasters is open seven days a week, starting at 6 a.m. for early birds and local surfers seeking to catch morning waves. The cafe features vintage, surf shack-inspired design and outdoor benches with built-in surfboard racks.

Anna Bow
95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd.

Photo via Anna Bow Cafe Facebook page

Photo via Anna Bow Cafe Facebook page

Located just a few blocks away, the newly opened Anna Bow cafe is another great place to begin your day at the beach. This restaurant row newcomer boasts an extensive menu of breakfast burritos, freshly made salads and smoothies, as well as caffeinated concoctions to start your day.

Standouts include their pineapple, mango and toasted coconut smoothie ($8), as well as their southwestern avocado and egg burrito with oaxaca cheese and pico de gallo ($8).

Rockaway Beach Surf Club
302 Beach 87th St.

Photo courtesy of Rockaway Beach Surf Club

Photo courtesy of Rockaway Beach Surf Club

Nestled on the beach behind a brightly colored sugar skull wall mural is the Rockaway Beach Surf Club, a hybrid bar, restaurant and performance space dedicated to celebrating local surf culture and urban arts. On Saturday, Aug. 15, the surf club will host the third annual “Women of the Seven Seas” New York Women’s Surf Film Festival in partnership with Lava Girl Surf.

Photo courtesy of The Rockaway Beach Surf Club / Tacoway Beach

Photo courtesy of Rockaway Beach Surf Club / Tacoway Beach

Hungry beachgoers can feast on savory chorizo, fish or tofu tacos ($3.50) from Tacoway Beach, the newly opened eatery housed in a  bright, surfboard-lined space within Rockaway Surf Club. Tacoway Beach also offers a weekend “surf ‘n’ eat” breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays featuring breakfast tacos, Woodside Bakehouse granola bars and cold-brewed coffee.

Riis Park Beach Bazaar
157 Rockaway Beach Blvd.

Photo via Riis park Beach Bazaar on Facebook

Photo via Riis Park Beach Bazaar Facebook page

Sun worshipers seeking variety will want to visit the Riis Park Beach Bazaar, an offshoot of the former Brooklyn Night Bazaar, featuring an impressive roster of food and drink vendors from some of the city’s hottest establishments.

Beat the heat with scoops of “salted crack caramel” ice cream from Brooklyn’s Ample Hills Creamery, or cool off with authentic Mexican paletas (ice pops) made with unique ingredients like Oaxacan chocolate, tamarind, dried chilies, passion fruit and hibiscus from La Newyorkina.

Photo courtesy of La Newyorkina

Photo courtesy of La Newyorkina

The much-loved fried chicken and waffle cone from “Quino” Baca at The Brooklyn Star is the perfect hand-held beach bite. Lunch and dinner feasts would not be complete without smokey, saucy ribs, wings and tacos from Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue, or handcrafted heroes from Court Street Grocers. The bazaar is open seven days a week and hosts two-for-one happy hour and beer specials daily.

Playland Motel
97-20 Rockaway Beach Blvd.

Photo courtesy of the Playland Motel

Photo courtesy of the Playland Motel

Cap off your day at the beach with a refreshing summer cocktail or cold craft beer at the Playland Motel. Sip on the guava margarita ($10) or pints of Rockaway “1875” pale ale ($6), or nurse a sunburn with the painkiller ($10), a soothing mix of Goslings rum, coconut, pineapple and nutmeg.

The Playland Motel grill also offers a menu of small plate specialties, including clam fritters ($8) and peel-and-eat, beer-boiled shrimp ($12), as well as entrees including Baja fish tacos ($16), jerk chicken ($16) and the catch of the day (MP).





Cops save jet skiers caught in current off Rockaway Beach

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Two NYPD officers came to the rescue of a pair of jet skiers after they were swept up in a strong current near the Rockaways last weekend, according to police.

The trouble started when the male jet skiers, ages 21 and 28, ran out of gas Saturday night in the water off of Beach Ninth Street and Seagirt Boulevard, authorities said. They then got caught in the current.

Police Officer Matthew Carson of the 101st Precinct, who was assigned to a nearby foot post, heard the 911 call at about 8:45 p.m. to help the stranded men.

By the time the officer arrived, the current had carried the two men and their jet skis several blocks down the beach, according to police. One man was holding onto the jet ski while the other, who was adrift in the current, wore a loose life vest that was unable to properly keep him afloat.

“His hands were going up in the air as he was going under the water,” said Police Officer Christopher Carlino, who by that time had arrived at the scene with additional cops.

Carson decided he was going to enter the water to save the jet skiers and Carlino volunteered to go with him.

“I came to the conclusion that this one guy wasn’t going to make it to the shore. It was my gut instinct to go into the water and make sure this guy wasn’t going to drown,” Carson said.

Carson, guided by a flashlight held by officers standing on land, made his way out to the man who was floating alone, and pulled him close to the shoreline where Carlino grabbed him and brought him to safety, authorities said. Carson then went back in the water and retrieved the other man and the jet ski.

The jet skiers were “exhausted” but uninjured, according to police.


Identify this place in Queens

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


Do you know where in Queens this photo was taken? Guess by commenting below! The answer will be revealed next week.

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”: Rockaway Beach near Beach 80th Street





Identify this place in Queens

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Do you know where in Queens this photo was taken? Guess by commenting below! The answer will be revealed next week.

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”: Across from the Broad Channel S train stop in Rockaway Beach. 




20-year-old Rockaway man among seven dead in Amtrak derailment

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

Updated Thursday, May 14 10:43 a.m. 

A 20-year-old naval midshipman from Rockaway Beach, who was on his way home, is among the seven people killed after an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia Tuesday night, according to reports.

Justin Zemser, who was on leave, as a cadet at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland was on his way home to visit family in Rockaway.

The academy confirmed the death of Zemser, who was a sophmore midshipman third class. He was a member of the 17th Company at the academy, an English major and academic honor student. Zemser was also on the Navy Sprint Football Team, the Jewish Midshipman Club, and the Semper Fi Society.

“Justin was a talented, highly respected young man with a tremendously bright future. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the Zemser family, and our extended USNA family, during this very difficult time,” said Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Walter “Ted” Carter.

Zemser’s parents released a statement on a Facebook page created in memory of their son, who was valedictorian at Channel View High School and finishing his second year at the academy. The page, titled “RIP Justin Zemser” garnered over 3,000 likes and features a profile photo of the young man with his mother, who lost her only child.

“He was a loving son, nephew and cousin, who was very community minded,” the statement said. “This tragedy has shocked us in the worst way and we wish to spend this time grieving with out close family and friends.”

State Senator Joseph Addabbo, whose district covers the Rockaways, sent out his condolences to Zemser’s family and called the young man  a “good Rockaway neighbor.”

“My deepest condolences and prayers go out to the family of Justin Zemser, a Rockaway resident who passed away as a result of the Amtrak train derailment Tuesday night. News of his passing was reported by the media. I understand Justin was returning home from his studies at the U.S. Naval Academy,” Addabbo said. “Many in Rockaway, including my staff member Sandee Doremus, had known Justin since he was a child and knew him to be a good Rockaway neighbor. Justin’s commitment to serve our country is still and always will be greatly appreciated.”

Councilman Eric Ulrich, who represents the Rockaways, also sent out his condolences to the family of the cadet, who was a former intern at his office.

“Today, the Rockaway community mourns the death of Justin Zemser, a local resident and former intern in my office, who lost his life last night in the tragic Amtrak train derailment. Justin was truly a bright, talented and patriotic young man,” Ulrich said. “My deepest prayers and sympathy go out to his family and friends who are grieving during this very difficult time. He will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved him.”

Zemser was also an intern at Councilman Donovan Richards’s office, who expressed his sadness upon hearing the news of his death.

Justin Zemser and Councilman Donovan Richards. (Photo courtesy of Councilman Richard's office)

Justin Zemser and Councilman Donovan Richards. (Photo courtesy of Councilman Richard’s office)

“I was greatly pained by last night’s train derailment, a pain that quickly intensified when I recognized one of the victims,” Richards said. “Justin Zemser showed great commitment and initiative as an intern in our office, well before he dedicated his life to our country by joining the U.S. Naval Academy. He was a rising star that will be greatly missed by the Rockaway community. His family is in my prayers and my office is always open if there is any way in which we can help.”

According to reports, the Amtrak train, which had left Washington and was heading to New York, derailed around 9:30 p.m. in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia.

More than 200 people were wounded, including the train’s conductor.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of life from Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 that derailed north of Philadelphia Tuesday evening,” Amtrak said in a statement.

Emergency responders are on scene and the investigation is still ongoing to determine the cause of the derailment.

The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed Wednesday the train was traveling at more than 100 mph, double the speed limit, as it was entering a sharp curve before derailing. Before entering the curve, the speed limit is reportedly 70 mph.

Service will be provided between Washington and Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Philadelphia, and New York and Boston, according to Amtrak. There will be no Amtrak service between New York and Philadelphia, but New Jersey Transit will honor Amtrak tickets between New York City and Trenton.

Anyone with questions about friends or family on the train can call the Amtrak Incident Hotline at 800-523-9101.


Lonely Planet names Queens best place to visit in US next year

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the Queens Tourism Council

Move over, Manhattan — Queens is the must-see U.S. destination of the coming year, according to a leading travel guidebook company.

The borough has made it to the top of the list of Lonely Planet’s Best in the U.S. 2015. Selected by Lonely Planet’s authors and ranked by its U.S. editors, the list consists of 10 perennial favorites, places with timely reasons to visit and understated destinations that are ready for their time in the spotlight.

“I’ve seen how Queens has transformed from one of the forgotten boroughs to one of the exciting places to visit,” said Regis St. Louis, coordinating author of Lonely Planet’s USA and New York City guidebook.

This year was the first time that Queens made the annual online list, which was released on Wednesday.  The rankings expand on Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel 2015” guidebook, which came out in October, and chose Washington, D.C., and Rocky Mountain National Park as its top city and regional picks among world destinations.

St. Louis, a 14-year New York City resident, who currently lives in Brooklyn, was one of several authors to nominate Queens for the Best in the U.S. 2015 list.

It was clear from our passion and our feedback about Queens that it should be number one on this list,” he said.

Rounding out the top 10 are Western South Dakota,  New Orleans,  the Colorado River region, North Conway, N.H., Indianapolis, Greenville, S.C., Oakland, Calif., Duluth, Minn., and California’s Mount Shasta region.

Queens food truck

What made Queens stand out among those destinations were reasons obvious to anyone familiar with the borough, such as its diversity, Rockaway Beach and its art institutions.

As St. Louis writes on the Lonely Planet website, Queens is  “New York’s meltiest melting pot,” and that is not only reflected in the number of languages that are spoken there, but also in its culinary offerings.

“It’s something that has always been there, but it’s something that people are just beginning to discover,”  he said about the diversity.

He also highlighted Rockaway Beach’s growing trendiness and the borough’s burgeoning arts scene, noting the Queens Museum’s recent makeover and the newly christened Kaufman Arts District in Astoria.


“You don’t have to stay in Manahattan anymore. You can come base yourself in Queens now,” St. Louis said.

That sentiment applies to both residents and tourists, as another advantage Queens has to offer is its boutique hotels, which have been growing in number.

Anyone looking for something that is not in the average guidebook should try Queens’ microbrewery scene, said St. Louis.

Microbreweries have exploded around the country, he said, and it’s surprising that so many of them have made their way to Queens.

These small-batch or nanobreweries, such as Finback Brewery and Rockaway Brewing Company, are just another example of what stands out in the borough’s food and drink scene, he explained.

Z Hotel in Queens, NY roof top

“People are looking for the next thing and there are some really interesting things happening in Queens,” St. Louis said. “There are so many great secrets … you never run out of things to do and see.”

To mark Queens topping the Best in the U.S. 2015, Lonely Planet is giving away the Queens chapter from its recently released New York City guide as a free e-book until Feb. 1, 2015. To get the free download, visit www.lonelyplanet.com/queens-ebook.

Find out more about this year’s list at www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-the-us-2015.



Last cleanup for Rockaway aims to clear beaches for winter

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Sea Shepherd New York


The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s New York City chapter plans a cleanup of Beach 116 in the Rockaways on Sunday. They have done it twice before this year, but the trash just keeps piling up.

The cleanup is open to the public and anyone can volunteer. Volunteers will meet on the boardwalk off Beach 116 under a Sea Shepherd Jolly Roger flag by 2 p.m.

They will clean the beach until 4:30 p.m. and spend the next hour sorting the trash on the boardwalk so passersby can see what is thrown away at the beach.

“During our earlier cleanups, we have found soda bottles, empty alcohol bottles, plastic cups, paper products from fast food places nearby and metal bottles,” said Ethan Wolf, coordinator for the society’s New York City chapter. “In the summer months, we have also found pieces of clothing.”

Once, his team found a plastic box filled with rusty nails. “That was the weirdest thing,” he said.

The most harmful thing to discard in the beach is plastic, Wolf said. “Plastic doesn’t go away,” he said. “It breaks down into smaller particles. The marine wildlife eats it, even the birds eat it, and then their stomach gets filled with plastic. They then cannot eat the food they need to sustain themselves.”

Sea Shepherd now has a plan for all that plastic. The organization has teamed up with Bionic Yarn to convert the plastic trash found on the beach into fiber. The project is still in its initial stages as both sides have yet to figure out which type of plastic can actually be used.

Wolf said that this is the last cleanup of Rockaway that the organization has planned for this year, since usually, not much trash accumulates on the beaches during the winter. However, volunteers will continue to check the beaches during the winter, and if they feel it’s necessary, they will organize another cleanup.





Take a first look at new interior of Sandy-wrecked Peninsula library as construction is set to begin soon

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of Queens Library

The long chapter of devastation is coming to an end for the Peninsula library in Rockaway Beach.

The building on Beach 92nd Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard was “the hardest hit” library in the borough by Hurricane Sandy, according to a Queens Library spokeswoman, and has yet to reopen after nearly two years.

Service has been operating out of a trailer since January 2013, but officials are securing permits and bids to complete reconstruction and hope to open the library by early 2015.

“Beginning to rebuild the permanent library was delayed while we worked with FEMA and the city to establish how to proceed,” a representative for the library said. “Since this library had been scheduled for a complete redesign and renovation prior to the storm, we are taking this opportunity to present the community with a greatly enhanced library.”

The rebuilt library will include a larger multipurpose room for public use, which will allow for community events and meetings even if the library is closed.

There will also be a new adult reading area, children’s room and teen area with furniture and computers. Modern customer service equipment will be added, including exterior machines to return books at any time. And a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system will be added throughout the building as well.

Adult reading area

Officials expect the Department of Buildings to issue permits in a matter of weeks making way for reconstruction to begin.

The Queens Library is collecting bids until Oct. 6 for a contractor to provide mechanical, plumbing and flood barrier renovation work, according to city documents.

In June, Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder announced that he secured more than $700,000 through the Public Library Construction Grant Program to help renovate the Ozone Park library and the Peninsula library. Goldfeder said $582,654 was awarded to the Peninsula library reconstruction.


Anthony Weiner opening up restaurant in Rockaways

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Anthony Weiner is helping to restore the Rockaways, but not as a politician.

Instead, he’s launching Rockaway Restoration Kitchen, a nonprofit agency that aims to “operate a healthy, sustainable restaurant in a hard luck community to provide training, on-the-job apprenticeships and placement in the culinary and food service sector for unemployed New Yorkers,” according to its page on Idealist.org.

Hurricane Sandy damaged much of the peninsula, and the restaurant, which was first reported to open by the Rockaway Times, is looking to help out the still-suffering residents there.

“Our goal is to provide a comfortable neighborhood restaurant with healthy, locally sourced food that satisfies the hunger of Rockaway residents, attracts visitors and serves up dignity and self-sufficiency by serving as a hands on training ground to provide skills, real experience and job placement in the culinary industry,”  the restaurant says on its website.

Weiner, who virtually ended his political career in a sexting scandal back in 2011 and then mounted a failed mayoral campaign that was marred by another sexting discretion, represented the Rockaways for more than a decade.

He told the Daily News this project is something that the area needs.

“Large swaths of the peninsula are lacking in quality, sustainable, nutritious food,” he said. “It’s also sadly true that many residents need help developing skills to lift them out of unemployment.”

The Kitchen is currently looking to fill an executive director position. This person will be in charge of the management and operation of all aspects of the social enterprise as well as the nonprofit corporation, multiple food-service based lines of business and the youth training program, according to the listing.

There is no set date for the kitchen’s debut.



Rockaway ferry service no longer funded

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

File photo

The city has left Rockaway Ferry service dead in the water.

The $75 billion budget the City Council approved on Thursday had $2 million for the extension of ferry service through October but after that there is no more funding.

“I am severely disappointed in Mayor de Blasio and the Economic Development Corporation for ignoring the transit needs of southern Queens and Rockaway families,” Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder said in a statement after the budget was approved. “Like every other borough in the city, we deserve an affordable, efficient and reliable means of transportation.”

The ferry service began after a bridge connecting the A train and the Rockaways collapsed in Superstorm Sandy. In a letter signed by all five borough presidents before the budget was approved, the politicians urged the City Council to put more funds in the service to make it a “major form of transportation.”




Rockstock and Barrels Festival to hit the sand

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Jimmy Dowd

A local summer festival is getting ready to officially rock the beach for the first time.

The eighth annual Rockstock and Barrels Festival, a free event at Rockaway Beach featuring live music, a surf competition, skating demonstrations, beach games and vendors, will move from the boardwalk to the sand this year, according to co-founder Jimmy Dowd.

Held on Saturday, June 28, starting at 10 a.m., the day-long festival kicks off the summer and helps the local community.

“It has been doing a lot of good things for the neighborhoods,” Dowd said.

Proceeds from the event, through the nonprofit organization Rockaway Beach Surf Club, are used for projects in the community, such as for construction at the skate park at 90th Street, located next to the beach where the event is held, and other causes, including sending inner city children to surf camp and introducing martial arts to kids through the mentoring program STOKED.

Dowd of St James Clothing founded the festival in 2006 with Walker Hornung of Invisible Sun Booking Agency and Into the Whip Records, and Steve Stathis of Boarders Surf Shop.

Since that time the event has grown, but “it’s finally really catching some headway,” Dowd said, and in the last two years it’s starting to get recognized by larger corporations.

Co-sponsored by the city’s Parks Department, it’s the largest event the department holds in the Rockaways, Dowd said.

According to event organizers, this year in particular shows the recovery of the community and how it has rebuilt after Sandy.

Dowd sees the move to the beach as “a celebratory thing,” as they are finally getting the sand that they’ve been promising. U.S. Army Corps of Engineer crews have been placing sand onto Rockaway Beach to help repair and restore the area following Superstorm Sandy.

“We can actually utilize the beach,” he said.

This year attendees will be able to enjoy beach games, such as volleyball and possibly horseshoes.

Though the beach has not been the center of previous Rockstock and Barrels Festivals, it has played an important role through the surf competition.

Sponsored by the Atlantic Surf Federation, “people come from far and near for this event,” Dowd said.

The festival, which was attended by almost 8,000 people last year, attracts visitors from all over the city and beyond. To service them, OvRride will have special “luxury buses” with pick-ups and drop-offs in Manhattan and Williamsburg, according to Dowd.

Rockstock and Barrels will additionally feature companies that come to share their goods, and the event is still accepting vendors and seeking more sponsors.

To find out more about the festival, and vendor and sponsorship opportunities, click here.

“We just want to see the event grow… to bring awareness to how amazing this beach is,” Dowd said.




Kickstarter campaign aims to bring ‘glamping’ to Rockaway Beach

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Camp Rockaway

Luxury will meet camping on Rockaway Beach if a Kickstarter campaign can help fund the project.

Inspired by the tent colonies of the 1900s, the idea to bring “glamping” — a mash-up of glamour and camping — to the shores of Queens is the brainchild of New York-based designer and founder of Milktrout LLC, Kent Johnson.

Camp Rockaway, a chic “tent-hotel,” combines “beach camping heritage with modern amenities,” according to the project’s Kickstarter website.

It will feature safari-style canvas tents on a landscaped campground overlooking Jamaica Bay and just a short walk from the beach. Each tent is fully furnished, with real beds, crisp, white linen sheets and summer-weight blankets. Amenities include private fire pits, outdoor showers and hot tubs overlooking the bay.
Johnson hopes Camp Rockaway will aid in the community’s efforts to restore the beach following Superstorm Sandy.

That vision includes a team of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified and proficient installers of green-building strategies, which aims to help restore and protect the site’s native environment.

The team has been researching, designing and trying to find support for the project for more than a year, and Johnson has just set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise $50,000 to make Camp Rockaway a reality.

Those who pledge $25 or more will receive a gift, ranging from a Camp Rockaway friendship bracelet to a private stay for 20 friends during the soft-launch phase.

A portion of pledges will also go toward sponsoring a kid participating in STOKED, a mentoring program that for almost a decade has been teaching low-income kids in New York City and Los Angeles to surf and skateboard, for a one-night stay at Camp Rockaway.