By Kathianne Boniello
Every year the 111th Precinct Community Council hosts a Children’s Holiday Parade in which a crowd of exciting children makes its way up Bell Boulevard and greets Santa Claus before catching a free movie at the Bayside Movie Theater.
But with the Bayside Movie Theater closed and boarded up for renovation, the 111th Community Council has canceled this year’s parade.
Community Affairs Officer Santo Elardo said “with the movie theater closed, they don’t know what to do with the kids.”
Organizer and community council member Bernie Caulfield said the parade was being canceled “for this year only.”
Caulfield said although the 111th Precinct officers were “more than willing” to participate in the parade, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks made it a tough time to hold the annual march.
“I was very conflicted about it,” said Caulfield, who said the parade would be held next year.
In the last couple of years the parade, usually held in mid-December, was sparsely attended but featured an enthusiastic crowd of children, 111th Precinct officers and elected officials. State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) traditionally held a place of honor, riding in the parade with St. Nick atop a city fire truck provided by Engine Co. 306 in Bayside.
The parade would journey down a short route — less than 10 blocks — to Bell Boulevard and 39th Avenue. Once Santa Claus descended from his perch, the kids who marched in the parade were treated to a free movie at the Bayside Movie Theater at 38-39 Bell Blvd.
A variety of groups would join in the event, including the Empire State Antique Car Club; the Francis Lewis HS marching band; the NYPD’s mounted unit; and the Merchant Marine Academy’s color guard, among others.
The 111th Police Precinct, which is headquartered in Bayside at the intersection of Northern Boulevard and 215th Street, includes the communities of Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, Douglas Manor, Oakland Gardens, Hollis Hills, and parts of Auburndale.
This fall the Bayside Movie Theater was sold by United Artists to a Bayside businessman. While plans for the now closed theater have not been announced, posted construction permits at the building said new storefronts were being built in the space.
Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext 146.