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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

It Was A Happy 2017 Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossom Festival Day - Over 6 Thousand People Participated In Japanese Music, Food, Dance & Culture

Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) 2017 Cherry Blossom Festival Committee Chair Lydia Tang reports:
The 2017 Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossom Festival was a tremendous success!

Attendance at Four Freedoms Park exceeded 5000 people, who came to watch performances by world-class performance groups, as well as local community groups. Many of these outstanding performers have volunteered to perform since our first festival year in 2011. Our two most recent additions have also delighted our audience. We again presented traditional Japanese Folk Dancing Instruction sponsored by Main Street Theatre and Dance Alliance; members of the community audience were invited to join the dancers. Plus, there was a special dance performance by the delightful Young Roosevelt Island Japanese Association Dancers.

The Japanese Cultural Fair at Gallery RIVAA was very successful as well, with strong attendance and activities enjoyed by children of all ages. Many members of the Roosevelt Island Parents Network participated in the calligraphy, kimono try-on and origami fishing game activities. This year we presented an ink painting workshop sponsored by Resobox, our LIC affiliate. Attendees also enjoyed the Shakuhachi performance by Gerald Starlight.

Our community picnics at Southpoint Park were also well attended, especially by the seniors and disabled communities. RIDA donated the use of their bus, so our seniors and disabled neighbors were transported from the Senior Center to the park. RIDA also provided transport for other Cherry Blossom Festival operations.

Island Wine and Spirits hosted a sake tasting event and the Tea Ceremony was a highlight of the festival. The two Japanese food vendors received rave reviews.

Between the attendance at the performances, the community picnics at Southpoint Park, the participants at Gallery RIVAA and the throngs of people picnicing under the cherry trees that necklace the island, we estimate more than 6000 people participated in our Cherry Blossom Festival this year.

Thanks to the efforts of everyone who stepped up and offered to go above and beyond, we surpassed expectations for this wonderful event.

A special thanks to our many hardworking volunteers:
  • Takashi Ikegawa, our Japanese-speaking performance group manager, Michael Shinozaki, our stage manager, and Jim Luce, our MC.
  • Lizette DeJesus of Four Freedoms Park supplemented her staff by driving people movers to meet the increased transportation demands necessitated by Public Safety mandate.
  • Madeline Grimes of Four Freedoms Park helped with our Facebook page.
  • Dave and Jim Tang drove the RIDA bus and other vehicles.
  • Sayuri Lindholm, our Japanese Association liaison, spearheaded the Japanese Cultural Fair for the second year and organized the Japanese community to produce the activities.
  • Julia Palermo, our lead for the performers' reception, plus and her seconds, Sharon Williams and Laura Hussey, produced a sumptuous spread to thank our volunteer performers.
  • Mary Coleman and Wendy Hersh spearheaded the senior and disabled picnic.
  • Adib Mansour designed the beautiful posters, programs and banner.
  • John Dougherty designed our webpage.
  • Flo Kerr made our signature volunteer identifying obis.
  • Our hard working resident and other volunteers, ranging from high school students, BMCC and Cornell-Tech volunteers to senior citizens: Bintu Cisse, Mathew Luce, Renate Narr, Bryan Neis, Sandy Newell, Sherry Ryan, Mark Shinozaki, Ruth Titus.
  • A big shout out to Jane Swanson and the Cornell Tech volunteers for printing and posting last-minute signage on the morning of the event.
  • Our RIRA volunteers: Linda Hussey, Adib Monsour, Scott Piro, Mickey Rindler, Melissa Wade, Cindy Wilkerson, Sharon Williams, and Shuang Yu. And everyone else I missed. I am so grateful for your service, whether you served one hour or all day long.
  • And finally, my gratitude to Lynne Strong Shinozaki, who stepped up to help with everything.
This year, the generous donations to this event from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, our site partners, housing management companies and merchants covered our needs and expenses. A special shout out of thanks to Charlie Abdul and his wife Isa at Roosevelt Landings, for their last-minute efforts regarding the stage. Thank you again to everyone, and I hope all of you were able to enjoy at least some part of our 2017 Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossom Festivities.

Here are some performances from the 2017 Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossom Festival.

UPDATE 5/11: