Tag Archives: tour

Tour of Richmond Hill highlights the Indo-Caribbean community’s needs

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Ridgewood Times/Photos by Anthony Giudice

The Indo-Caribbean population and culture in Richmond Hill is booming, and as a result the residents are in need of programs and institutions that bring them together as a community.

Richard David, co-founder of the Indo-Caribbean Alliance (ICA), led a 2-hour walking tour on June 25 of Richmond Hill’s important Indo-Caribbean cultural hubs, including Little Guyana Bake Shop and the Shri Lakshmi Narayan Mandir, informing the participants of the support system that local organizations, like the ICA, provides to their community.

“The Indo-Caribbean community in Richmond Hill has exploded in the past 10 years, growing an estimated 23 percent from 2000 to 2010 and having the third highest foreign-born population in NYC,” said Joo Han, program and communications manager for the Asian American Federation (AAF). “However, the community has received little government funding due to its lack of visibility, despite its being the largest Indo-Caribbean community in NYC.”

One stop on the tour was Shri Lakshmi Narayan Mandir, one of the oldest Hindu temples in the city.

Not only does the Mandir provide residents with a place to worship, but organizers are looking to create senior and youth programs to be held in the Mandir, in order to educate the community on the importance of joining together and helping others.

“There is no community center in the neighborhood,” said Varuna Sahabir, organizing secretary at the Shri Lakshmi Narayan Mandir. “Since there is no official place for the community to gather, it is a struggle to get people to come out to vote. The community needs to come together. That is why we are trying to reach out and help the people of the community.”

The tour concluded at the ICA office, located at 131-12 Liberty Ave., to discuss some of the community’s needs and how ICA provides support for youth and residents.

“We’re a community that can do a lot with a little support, but we have a lot of service needs,” David said. “Our youth are dropping out at unprecedented rates; we’re now faced with a generation of young people who have actually achieved less education than their parents. We need to address those needs.”

The ICA has several programs dedicated to youth, including a middle school initiative, a college bound program and a mentoring program.

“We do a leadership skill-building program, it’s a natural complement to some of our civic advocacy work because the students in our leadership program are also the ones registering people to vote, organizing debates, setting up different cleaning events for Liberty Avenue…it’s a really good way to get our programs to build greater cohesion,” David said.

According to the AAF Census Information Center the demographic profile of Richmond Hill shows that 74 percent of Indians and 72 percent of Asians were immigrants. This high level of immigration in the Indo-Caribbean community in Richmond Hill has led the ICA to create a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

DACA is a special, non-permanent immigration program that provides work permits and temporary relief from deportation to eligible residents. ICA offers help to interested residents to find free lawyers and see if they are eligible and may even be able to cover application fees.

For more information about ICA and all the services they offer please visit their website.


Take a spooky look at Astoria’s past

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Marie Carter

Visitors and residents of Astoria will soon be able to dig into the spooky past of the now booming neighborhood.

Tour company Boroughs of the Dead, known for its “strange and dark tours” of New York City, is stretching its two-hour tours into the western Queens neighborhood during “Haunting Histories and Legends of Astoria,” expected to begin later this month.

“We are so much more than a ‘ghost tour’ company. We are genuinely dedicated to unearthing the hidden, forgotten and overlooked histories of the city, including its folklore and ghost stories, and the level of research, commitment and authentic passion for local history that we bring to our tours makes them a unique tour experience,” said Andrea Janes, owner and founder of Boroughs of the Dead.

The Astoria tour, which is scheduled to kick off on June 27, was designed and will be led by Astoria resident and author Marie Carter, who went on her first ghost tour at age 10 when she was growing up in Scotland.

Astoria resident and author Marie Carter (Photo by Andrea Janes)

Astoria resident and author Marie Carter (Photo by Andrea Janes)

Her father, who became a tour guide, instilled in her a love of history, and as she grew up, the tours continued to be an activity she enjoyed.

After making the move to New York City, Carter first thought the Big Apple didn’t have a lot of history to learn about, but once she started work at the Woolworth Building she became interested in the story behind the city.

While looking for ghost tours, she came upon Boroughs of the Dead and after making the move from Brooklyn to Astoria and researching extensively about the Queens neighborhood, she went from a customer to a guide.

“I love that they’re not just about the spooky story, they are about giving historical context and the tours are really researched,” Carter said.

Carter approached Janes about doing a tour in Astoria and Janes jumped on the idea because she had been waiting for the opportunity to expand into Queens.

“I know that having a local neighborhood expert running the tour will make it an incredibly rich experience,” Janes said. “I am extremely excited to be working with Marie and to have her as part of the BotD team. She started out as a customer, became a guide, and is now helping bring us into a whole new phase of our company.”


During the Astoria tour participants will be able to take a stroll, stretching about 1.5 miles, through some of the lesser-known historical sites and learn about some of the “unsettling tales of the neighborhood’s grim and ghostly past.”

Some of the facts participants will learn about include tragic Hollywood film starts, voodoo, grisly murders, poltergeists and hidden treasure.

“I hope they get a sense of the history of the neighborhood and I hope they get to discover how amazing the neighborhood is,” Carter said. “I come across the most amazing incredible buildings while living in Astoria and I wouldn’t have known they were there if I didn’t get lost on my bike rides. And I hope people will get an appreciation of just how amazing their neighborhood is.”

“Haunting Histories and Legends of Astoria” is the company’s first move into Queens, although according to Janes, who was living in Astoria in 2007, the borough was the inspiration for both the company and book with the same name.

“With each passing year we hope to expand until we have tours throughout the whole city, but we will always have a special place in our hearts for Queens: the original borough of the dead,” Janes said.

There are two time slots for the Astoria tour on June 27, 3 and 8 p.m., and tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. The tour will then be offered again on Aug. 22 at 8 p.m. and plans are to offer the tour throughout October as well.

For more information visit, boroughsofthedead.com.


Queens natives start ‘non-touristy’ food tour of borough

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Richard Mumith

The founders of a new walking food tour, which is making its start in Long Island City, are looking to prove that Queens is the “king of the boroughs.”

Queens natives Richard Mumith and Sergey Kadinsky started the company Locals Finds Queens Food Tours to share their love for the diverse borough and bring tourists across the East River.

“We essentially started up for the tourists but now a lot of natives are becoming part of it too,” Mumith said. “We now want Queens locals to really see what is in their backyard.”

The three-hour tours, which began July 13 and take place every Sunday, look to combine the history, culture and food of the borough in what Mumith calls a “non-touristy ‘off the beaten’ experience.”

Every Sunday eight participants, who are told the meeting point after purchasing tickets, get together and sample food from six local Long Island City establishments, while also being given a tour by Kadinsky, who is a licensed tour guide, on the history and present details on the western Queens neighborhood.

The stops of the tour include Manducatis Rustica, Woodbines Craft Kitchen, Sweetleaf, Alobar, Rockaway Brewing Company and Sage General Store.

Mumith said the tours are starting in Long Island City because it is close to Manhattan and also has an “amazing industrial manufacturing history and artistic presence.”

“We’re really here to create a relationship with the communities,” Mumith said.

However, Mumith hopes to expand the tours into full weekends in Long Island City and later move them further into other Queens neighborhood such as Astoria and Flushing.

“We’re here to stay. We’re here to do all the great borough of Queens and each neighborhood presents something unique,” he said.

The Briarwood resident is even challenging the other four boroughs to try and beat the diversity and distinct cuisines offered in Queens.

“What people don’t know, when it comes to the culinary scene, Queens is the king of the boroughs,” Mumith said.

Tickets for the tours are $56 for adults and $42 for children 12 and under. The price of tickets include the tour, which begins every Sunday at 11 a.m., food tastings and an exclusive brochure featuring a map of the neighborhood, list of attractions, other restaurant recommendations and list of things to do.

For more information visit foodsofqueensny.com or call 800-656-0713.



Mayor de Blasio welcomes thousands to Gracie Mansion

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Twitter/@NYCMayorsOffice

Mayor Bill de Blasio welcomed thousands of New Yorkers to Gracie Mansion Sunday, giving them a tour of the historic building he called the “People’s House.”

“It’s been a pleasure sharing the inauguration with residents from all five boroughs,” the mayor said, “and I can’t think of a better way to end the week than by spending it with New Yorkers.”

Guests were greeted with tunes from Make Music New York — a nonprofit group, featuring Grammy-nominated opera singer Christopher Dylan Herbert — and the New York City Housing Authority Youth Chorus.

Tickets for the open house, distributed online, quickly sold out last week.

A long line wrapped around the future home of the de Blasios at the corner of 88th Street and East End Avenue beginning about noon, according to the NYC Mayor’s Office Twitter account.



Heejun Han to tour with “American Idol” this summer

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Michael Becker / FOX

Fans clamoring for more Heejun Han, will have the chance when the “American Idol” tour rolls through New York this summer.

The “American Idol Live” concert tour — featuring the show’s top 10 performers — lands at Nassau Coliseum on August 22.

Han, a graduate of Francis Lewis High School, will be among Colton Dixon, DeAndre Brackensick, Elise Testone, Erika Van Pelt, Hollie Cavanagh, Jessica Sanchez, Joshua Ledet, Phillip Phillips and Skylar Laine on the Uniondale stage.

The 45-city tour kicks off on July 6 in Detroit and lasts through September 11 when it finishes in Milwaukee.

The Flushing resident was sent home from “Idol” on March 29 after reaching the show’s top 9.

Season 11’s “American Idol” will be named on May 24.

To purchase tickets fans can visit ticketmaster.com.