'Staycation' In Queens, See The World
The summer solstice for 2009 took place this past Sunday, June 21. Already, though, for almost a month, the delights of summer have been making their presence felt throughout the borough, starting with Memorial Day, when smoke wafted into the air from thousands of barbecue grills, some in backyards and others lining sidewalks at street fairs, and the city's beaches and pools opened, imbuing almost everyone with a bent for water sports. We are fortunate that summer starts early in Queens- there is so much to do and see that it is nearly impossible to fit everything into one short season.
"Name brand" events such as Mets games at the National League team's new home, Citi Field and the U.S. Open, held at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, attract a sizable amount of attention, as well they should. But there are scores upon scores of other events that do not attract quite as much attention but are equally worthy of note. In August, the Hong Kong Dragon Boat races will take place on Meadow Lake in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. There is no charge to watch this colorful spectacle and the dozens of vendor booths on the sidelines offer inexpensive refreshments and souvenirs that will accommodate any and every budget.
Any adult who is a resident of this borough will be hard pressed to complain of a lack of leisure time activities. Besides the addition of summer programs to the year-round range of performance art and other cultural events at such venues as Flushing Town Hall and Queens Theater In the Park, free concerts are scheduled at nearly all the borough's parks. The Central Astoria Local Development Coalition's series of Thursday night free concerts in Astoria Park that starts with an Independence Day concert and fireworks extravaganza on June 29 and runs from July 9 through August 6, is just one example. The parks also are the scene of nature walks and other activities to heighten appreciation of the borough's flora and fauna by Queens' human inhabitants.
The borough's children have no reason to claim to be bored. The Queens Borough Public Library offers a far-reaching summer reading program, and many of the branch buildings in which it takes place have been recently reopened after extensive renovations, making them even more delightful places to pass summer afternoons reveling in the printed word—and in tapes, DVDs and many other media, all of which are free. Museums, theater groups and other organizations, many backed by the Queens Council on the Arts, have arts and crafts and theater activities for children of all ages, most which are available gratis or require very little cash outlay. The Police Athletic League has Play Sites activities scheduled in every police precinct in the borough. Summer jobs at parks and playgrounds let older children have fun while they learn the virtues of commitment and consistency and make some money.
Much has been made of the concept of the "staycation"—traveling around the block, the neighborhood or the city instead of visiting other cities, states or countries. We can think of nowhere better suited to traveling the world while staying at home than Queens. As far as we know, the borough's inhabitants come from at least 107 countries and speak a total of 126 languages. One can visit a whole range of different countries and cultures in the course of just a one-or two-block stroll. Why bother to go see the world when the world is waiting just outside your door? Nor will most of the delights to be found on the streets of Queens put a hole in one's wallet or exceed a credit card limit.
The benefits of vacationing in our home borough are more apparent than ever. Nor do we hesitate to share its many treasures with all who care to join us. The most diverse borough in the most diverse city welcomes all to share its delights.