A Trip to Astoria Shore Fest

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    Sunday, I decided to go check out the Astoria Shore Fest. The annual event closes Shore Road, allowing Astorians the chance to mill about on the normally busy thoroughfare which sits between Astoria Park and the Hells Gate section of the East River. The event is conducted by the Astoria Park Alliance, and this year it was blessed by fantastic weather.

    Check out lots of photos after the jump…

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    These are some of the folks with the APA, who were manning the group’s table. There were several pop tents set up along the roadway, and most of the group were busy accomplishing whatever tasks presented themselves. If you’ve never participated in offering an event to the public, believe me when I tell you that stage fright doesn’t even begin to describe the nervous conditions experienced by all involved. Bravo to the group, the event was wonderful to behold, and the good folks who populate almond-eyed Astoria came out in droves.

    That’s Katie Ellman from Green Shores NYC on the left, a friend who took pity on me and passed me a bottle of cold water shortly after this shot.

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    As advertised, Ping Pong tables and equipment were found on site and on time.

    I was particularly excited about this aspect of the event, as I like photographing people playing ping pong.

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    Another friend was encountered, who was overseeing and organizing the Pinging and the Ponging – Lynne Serpe.

    Ms. Serpe recently ran for City Council in Astoria (and is involved with many other worthy causes in Western Queens) and lives in the neighborhood. She excitedly described the provence of her Ping Pong tables to me.

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    Build It Green, a nonprofit with a warehouse nearby which promotes a very clever and pretty cool kind of recycling — check out their site, it is kind of hard to explain succinctly — supplied them.

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    There was music. This fellow was playing what I presume to be a Ukelele and singing clever things. There was a crowd of kids forming around him, so I kept on moving.

    Something nearby smelled delicious and I had to find out what it was.

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    That delectable set of odors was definitely not coming from these guys, but they did sound pretty good. A series of musicians were observed coming and going to this little amplified stage at Hells Gate over the course of the day.

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    In addition to the promised Ping Pong, this event was described as including “A Taste of Astoria” which would include free samples of food from the area’s justifiably famous restaurants.

    There was Indian food from 30th Avenue’s Namaste, which really drew a crowd.

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    I think it was Ditmars Boulevard’s “Thirsty Koala” that provided the offering pictured above.

    Volunteers from Astoria Park Alliance were running around with trays of the various offerings, cutting up portions, and serving them to long lines of hungry folk.

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    There were also empanadas, but I couldn’t get close enough to this table to find out where they were from.

    Note: When I walked behind the table to take this shot, an older woman who was about three people back in the queue must have thought I was trying to cut in front of her. She growled something Slavic, and made some sort of weird hand gesture at me. Discretion being the better part of valor, and not wanting to pick up some old world curse at Hells Gate, I backed away.

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    There were hundreds of the neighbors at the park, which was nice in itself. A lot of people had their kids with them as well.

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    Children were all over the place in fact, and were being driven absolutely mad by the notion of it being ok to play in the street.

    The NYC Parks Department sent a van out with all sorts of toys and other stuff for the kids to play around with, as well as a crew of people to help look after the kids. Puzzlingly, when I asked to take a shot of them, they all refused saying that Parks employees can’t be photographed. Huh? I respect their wishes, but is that actually “a thing”?

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    The afternoon was getting warmer, and it was time for me to head back home, which is all the way on the literal other side of Astoria at its border with Sunnyside and Woodside. Couldn’t resist one or two last shots though, like this little kid with the hula hoop.

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    I met this nice dog right before sticking the headphones into my ears and turning back towards home. The Astoria Park Shore Fest will return next Sunday, August 17th, between 1 P.M. And 7 P.M., and the theme will be creativity.

    Why not check it out? Summer is half over, after all.

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    Don’t you owe yourself a few games of Ping Pong at Hells Gate?

    Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman lives in Astoria and blogs at Newtown Pentacle.

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