Bayside Hills claps for essential workers on the front lines of COVID-19 pandemic

Photo courtesy of Rita Kashdan

For the past three weeks, every evening at 7 p.m. neighbors in the Bayside Hills community stand outside of their homes banging pots, ringing bells and clapping in support of the city’s frontline workers as they continue to battle the coronavirus. 

“It’s the one thing that people look forward to every day, so it’s been kind of a way to cope with what’s been going on,” said Matthew Kenny, who has been living in Bayside for the past 14 years. 

Neighbors along 217th Street and at the corner of 50th Avenue come out each night clapping for two minutes, followed by an inspirational song — such as “New York, New York,” “Staying Alive” and “Lean on me”— selected by Kenny that is played on his portable loud speaker on wheels.

Along 212th Street between 53rd and 56th avenues, neighbors come together to clap and cheer as well. 

(Photo courtesy of Rita Kashdan)

Like Kenny, some of his other neighbors have friends and family members in the front lines helping to save and protect lives during the crisis. 

“My wife is a nurse at St. Francis Hospital and she’s involved with research for one of the drugs they’re using in a trial called Remdesivir. She’s working from home and usually goes in one day a week to the hospital to get records,” Kenny said. “She had been at Lenox Hill Hospital for 25 years, and she has a lot of colleagues on the frontline fighting this.”

On April 23, Kenny buried his 87-year-old father-in-law, who succumbed to coronavirus. 

“It has affected us. You go from being with somebody every day and helping to feed them, to not being allowed to see them at all,” Kenny said. “You have a lot of respect for the healthcare workers that go in and hold your parent’s hand. We were able to see him a handful of times through FaceTime calls, and it means the world to you.”

Meanwhile, Rita Kashdan, a board member of the Bayside Hills Civic Association, prays for everyone’s safety and health. 

“My son is in law enforcement and he’s out there every day, and we have friends that are healthcare workers out there during this pandemic,” Kashdan said. “It’s a very difficult situation right now.” 

According to Kashdan, Kenny’s inspirational music uplifts their spirits during a time of uncertainty. 

“We’re literally dancing on our stoop and it’s been a lot of fun. We’re trying our best to give more love and we’re going to be out there rain or shine,” Kashdan said. “We love our community, we really do. It’s a beautiful community of all diversity here.” 

Michael Finer, president of the Bayside Hills Civic Association, said it’s important to recognize those who are on the frontlines helping to serve and protect New Yorkers. 

“We’re honoring the EMS, UPS, DSNY, FDNY, NYPD, nurses, doctors, the grocers and everybody else who has to come out,” Finer said. “They have to be out there and they’re protecting us. They’re doing what is necessary to keep us alive, more or less.” 

Michael Finer, president of the Bayside Hills Civic Association. (Photo courtesy of Michael Finer)