Queens Offers Range Of Summer Fun
The summer solstice, officially marking the start of summer 2011 began at 1:16 p.m. yesterday, June 21. Summer in Queens, of course, unofficially began May 30, Memorial Day, and will be considered ended on Labor Day, Monday, September 5, despite the fact that the season’s official end, the autumnal equinox, occurs almost three weeks later. Using Memorial and Labor Days as summer’s starting and ending points, that gives us 14 weeks to explore all the summer delights to be found in this borough.
We are fortunate to live in a borough that offers almost endless ways to make a summer memorable. Once again this summer the concept of the “staycation”—traveling around the block, the neighborhood or the city instead of visiting other cities, states or countries —is riding a wave of popularity. There is nowhere better suited to traveling the world while staying at home than Queens. 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 oneor 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.
Queens is a haven for the budget-conscious. 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 30 and runs from July 14 through August 11, 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. Summer programs, many of which are free or low-cost, have been added to the yearround range of performance art and other cultural events at such venues as Flushing Town Hall, Queens Theatre in the Park, P.S. 1, and Socrates Sculpture Park.
Activities for children abound. The Queens Borough Public library has a series of summer reading programs, many of which involve hands-on arts and crafts activities and all of which are either free or cost very little; the Police Athletic League has set up Play Streets all over the borough and the Parks Department has activities scheduled at nearly every park and playground. The Variety Boys and Girls Club in Astoria and its counterpart in Southeast Queens have a plethora of summer sports and activities readily available, as do the borough’s YM and YW venues. Fees are reasonable. The borough’s indoor and outdoor pools have swim classes and water activities scheduled for all ages. Families can enjoy the borough’s beaches without traveling long distances and paying for gas and parking, since most are accessible by public transportation. Also, adults and children can easily reach many of these events via public transportation. A good number are no more than a short walk away.
We have barely scratched the surface of all that there is to see and do in Queens this summer. Queens is the place to be, with awesome music and cultural festivals, street fairs and a host of other fun activities. For starters, just check this newspaper’s Calendar, call the Queens Council on the Arts or visit www.discoverqueens.info to open the door to a world of summer fun.