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RHBA’s 34th Annual Park Fair a success

Forest Park became a fairground on Saturday, September 8, as the Richmond Hill Block Association’s (RHBA) 34th Annual Park Fair ensured that Summer 2007 would go out with a bang.
“It’s always hectic in the beginning, but everything always falls into place,” said RHBA Vice President Wendy Bowne. “This year is no different.”
From 10 a.m. until well after 6 p.m., when the fair was scheduled to end, families enjoyed rides, games and live music, not to mention a near-endless supply of food.
“It went longer into the night than in any year in the past, but it was well worth it,” said Simcha Waisman, President of RHBA. “So many families told me how wonderful a time they were having.”
In addition to family fun, the fair provided an opportunity for active members of the Richmond Hill community to be recognized for their leadership. RHBA offered ‘Shining Stars of Richmond Hill’ awards to locals Caroline Eckert, Walter Cooper, Ilene Metzing and Richard Dono for strengthening the community through acts like sweeping Jamaica Avenue, running food pantries, and cleaning up graffiti.
State Senator Serphin Maltese and Assemblymember Nettie Mayersohn were on hand for the presentation, and even received awards themselves.
“We gave Senator Maltese an ‘Outstanding Senator’ award for his contributions and cooperation with RHBA over the years, and likewise, Assemblymember Mayersohn received an ‘Outstanding Assemblymember’ award,” said Bowne. “They’ve helped us tremendously over the years.”
Maltese, however, was as much a customer at the fair as he was an honoree.
“After the award ceremony, I ate,” said Maltese. “Hot dogs, hamburgers, custards - everything tastes delicious. There’s a spirit and atmosphere here that’s very exhilarating.”
The senator also paid visits to many of the vending booths that lined Myrtle Avenue, including Vietnam Veterans for America (VVA) members Tom Corbin, Ed Cavaliero, Bob Boisselle, Paul Feddern and Frank Caruso, all from VVA Chapter 32. The group was on hand to collect donations and draw attention to a new service center for veterans, located at 74-06 Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village.
“Vets are normally drawn to stuff like this,” said Corbin.
“Even if they just want to sit here and talk, that’s what we’re here for,” added Cavaliero.
Louie Font, of Howard Beach, has brought his son, Jason, 4, to the Park Fair each year of Jason’s life.
“I heard about this thing through the grapevine, even though I live in Howard Beach, and I’ve been a fan ever since,” said Font, as Jason drew a picture at the fair’s Kiddie Crafts station, one of many booths geared toward younger attendees.
Jason left no doubt as to his sentiments toward the fair.
“My dad just bought me a Batman and Robin toy,” he said, “so I’m happy.”
Kiddie Crafts was run by RHBA volunteer Andrea Wagner, whose daughter, 11-year-old Emilie, helped run the booth as a way of fulfilling her school’s community service requirement.
“My best friend came, and I haven’t seen her in awhile, so it’s been a good time,” said Emilie.
St. Albans resident David Botstein almost didn’t make it to the fair.
“Originally, we were going to go to the beach today, but as far as I know, the water will still be there tomorrow,” he said. “We can’t miss this.”
No matter which end of Forest Park attendees chose to visit, live music served as background noise. Jazz band Blue Skies, rock musician John Woods, and performers from the Louise Benes School of Dance entertained families from a stage at the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Park Lane South.
Though energetic, the music did not demand too much from listeners; rather, it served as a steady backdrop to a day built for families to enjoy each other’s company. According to Waisman, that dichotomy worked perfectly.
“It was one of the best fairs we’ve ever had,” said Waisman. “Hands down.”

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