The Astoria Park Alliance kicked off Earth Day with their second-annual Earth Day Shore Fest Spring Kickoff on Sunday, April 22, hosting several activities that promoted recycling, sustainability and environmental awareness.
The Earth Day Shore Fest took place in the park’s main lawn between Shore Boulevard and 19th Street. The free event featured companies and city organizations including the New York City Department of Sanitation, Citi Bike and Riverkeeper.
Attendees participated in a bee-keeping demonstration, a honey tasting and an Earth-themed magic show, and they learned how to build a solar oven, among other events.
“We had about 392 RSVPs on our Eventbrite,” said Martha Lopez Gilpin, the chair of the Astoria Park Alliance. Gilpin estimates the event attracted between 300 and 500 people, with many of the attendees coming from Brooklyn. She added that there were people at the park expressing interest, though they were not officially part of the event.
The Astoria Park Alliance (APA) was founded in 2007 by a group of volunteers who wanted to ensure the park was clean and welcoming to the community. One of those volunteers is Douglas Monaco, who is the APA’s marketing and communications director.
“It’s about being doers and showing the public that small steps lead to larger change,” Monaco said. He added that the APA’s next “big push” is to make the park itself more sustainable and ecologically friendly.
Monaco says that he first became interested in volunteering a few years ago when he got started with the Big Brother organization.
“The program was called ‘Streetwise’ and when that ended, I wanted to fill the void in my life,” Monaco said. “I was enjoying a walk in the park when I saw the sign for Shore Fest and reached out to the Astoria Park Alliance.” He soon put in charge of the organization’s communication initiative.
Councilman Costa Constantinides, who represents the 22nd District covering Astoria and Long Island City, gave closing remarks during which he reminded attendees that “every day is Earth Day.” During his time as a council member, Constantinides has supported environmental policy by proposing a bill to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050.
In addition, the councilman wants to increase the use of solar, wind, geothermal and bio fuels, according to the New York City Council’s website.
Monaco said that community response to APA’s efforts have been “overwhelmingly positive” and added that the alliance started a suggestion box on Typeform for anyone interested in coming up with projects to work on in the community.
The Astoria Park Alliance meets every other Saturday in the park for community volunteer projects. Their next endeavor is “Astoria Park Beautification,” which will take place on April 28 at 10 a.m., which Monaco said is open to the public.