Kew Gardens resident launches fundraiser to bring holiday lights to Lefferts Boulevard

(Photo via GoFundMe/EJ Sydell)

Two years ago, Kew Gardens resident EJ Sydell started a conversation about bringing holiday lights to the neighborhood. This year, Sydell decided to launch a GoFundMe campaign to “Light up Kew Gardens.”

“All we want is some much-needed festivity in our neighborhood to give our area a little boost and we feel that holiday street lights would bring some joy to our residents and businesses,” Sydell said. “Most areas around us — Forest Hills, Glendale, Jamaica, etc. — have them for the holiday season and they are fortunate to either have a chamber of commerce or a BID that helps pay for lights. We have neither so this year we started a GoFundMe campaign to ‘Light Up Kew Gardens.’” 

The funds will be used to purchase simple white 3-D snowflakes to illuminate Lefferts Boulevard from Kew Gardens Road down to Metropolitan Avenue, where the businesses are located, to bring some holiday cheer during the winter season. The cost for 10 3-D snowflakes is $21,675. Each snowflake costs $1,675, plus there are fees for permits and electricity. 

Sydell has partnered with residents Nathalie Reid, who used to own Thyme Health Market on the Lefferts Boulevard Bridge which has since closed, and Mariam Kessler, of the Parents Association at P.S. 99Q, for the initiative. 

Reid, who has lived in Kew Gardens since 1995, said she has vested an interest in keeping things bright and beautiful in the neighborhood. 

“I always got involved in community projects because I felt they were important things to do,” Reid said. “I applaud the effort that EJ is putting into this idea and hope and pray we can raise enough money to light up Kew Gardens!”

In the event they do not raise enough money for the street lights, the trio will use the funds raised to purchase white string lights. Supplies will be purchased for students to work on a community project making secular decorations that will be displayed on storefronts giving a “festive Main Street feel.”

Sydell, who is a Community Board 9 member and started the We Love Kew Gardens Community Group several years ago, said she feels the neighborhood needs a better quality of life for residents, especially local businesses. 

The community has endured challenges brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the historic Lefferts Boulevard Bridge owned by the LIRR that has been deteriorating and resulting in many shuttered storefronts, followed by the construction of a new borough-based jail that is receiving pushback from residents. 

According to Sydell, it would be nice if local businesses in the community could contribute to the GoFundMe campaign. 

For next year, Sydell said she will be going through the process to obtain funding from local elected officials to bring holiday lights to the community. 

“We think that this is something our elected officials should help pay for. I would like to go through that process, but we just ran out of time,” Sydell said. “I’m still hoping though that we can come through with the funding this year.”

In the meantime, Sydell, along with Reid and Kessler, will continue to do what they can with the funds raised. They are planning to install the decorations during Thanksgiving weekend.  

To contribute, visit gofundme.com/f/light-up-kew-gardens.