Tag Archives: Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library

Day One Hundred and Eighty: The Seventh Anniversary of Professor Angus Gillespie’s talk on the ‘Jersey Devil’ for the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library Halloween Events in 2013 November 13th, 2020

As part of our Halloween festivities for the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library, we had a really special event on November 13th, 2013 for a new event we planned called “The Family Night Lecture” that we had just created. Our special guest that evening was Professor Angus Gillespie from the American Studies Department of Rutgers University. He is an expert and lecturer on folklore and myths including the ‘Jersey Devil’.

Professor Angus Gillespie with Professor and Chairman of the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library Justin Watrel

Professor Gillespie was a noted author and he had explained to me that when he originally wrote the book “The Twin Towers: The Life of New York City’s World Trade Center” that it had a press of 2000 copies in 1999 bought mostly by his mother as gifts to her friends. When the Towers fell two year later, the book took off and became a Best Seller and he was flown all over the world as an expert on the history of the Towers. His book “Folklore in the Pine Barrens: A Study of the Pinelands Cultural Society of Waretown” was when the interest of the Jersey Devil began.

‘The Jersey Devil’

It has been a very interesting lecture that had everyone spellbound on the story of the Leeds family. The legend began with the story of Jane Leeds ( or in some historical cases Deborah Leeds) on a stormy night in 1735. Tired and frazzled from her 12 other children who over-worked her, she found that she was pregnant for the 13th time. She exclaimed ” I hope it’s not a child; I hope its the Devil”.

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The Leeds former home in the Pine Barrens

On a dark and stormy night she gave birth to the child with friends gathered in the home to witness the birth. The child was born normal and then transformed into a monster of hoofs, a goat’s head, bat’s wings and a forked tail. It then attacked people in the room before it escaped up the chimney. It disappeared into the Pine Barrens and over the years people have claimed to have had encounters with it the latest being in 1909.

Chairman Justin Watrel with Professor Gillespie and members of the Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library at the Junior Friends “Family Night Lecture”

It spellbound most of the crowd who were eager to ask questions. Professor Gillespie lead a discussion on the occurrences and accounts of the sightings over the years that got people thinking, was this thing still alive? The crowd had a wonderful time asking questions and getting a feel for the legend.

It was the last event of the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library that year and a wonderful way to celebrate Halloween. We had a small reception afterwards in Professor Gillespie’s honor.

Chairman & Professor Justin Watrel with Professor Angus Gillespie and Library Director Mimi Hui

Kevin Boothe at the Hasbrouck Heights Library

Day One Hundred and Sixty-Eight: ‘The Celebration of Books’: The Seventh Anniversary of Giants football player, Kevin Boothe’s visit to the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library July 17th, 2020

I dedicate this blog to great fellow Cornellian and former Giants football player, Kevin Boothe, who took time out of his busy summer schedule to come to the Hasbrouck Heights Library to visit the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library for the “Celebration of Books” event for the Library’s Summer Reading Program. We had over one hundred children and their parents attend the reading and reception for the event in July of 2013.

I had founded the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library in 2011 on the premise that there should be more for kids to enjoy at the library other than ‘kiddie things’  like “Mommie & Me” classes, teen book clubs and arts and crafts for kids. As a child I hated all that ‘baby stuff’ preferring ‘Nanny & the Professor’, ‘The Lucy Show’ and ‘That Girl’ over shows like ‘Sesame Street’ and ‘Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood’. I thought the shows were for ‘little kids’ as early as six. When it came time for movies, I enjoyed ‘On a Clear Day you can see Forever’ and ‘What’s Up Doc?’ to any of the kiddie fare they make kids watch at that age.

When Disney films like ‘Escape to Witch Mountain’ and ‘Freaky Friday’ and ‘The Bad News Bears’ came out,  it really showed how kids behaved back then and the independence our parent’s generation gave us as children. They expected us not ‘little adults’ but kids to be mature, have responsibility and respect for the people around them as well as be our own person. We were the last generation to mature at our own pace and probably the last.

I wanted to share this experience with other kids who were like minded, who wanted more than just the run of the mill activities. Plus I was patterning the organization on some of the groups catering to kids in the City at the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Forum, bringing the City to the kids of Hasbrouck Heights with sophisticated programming that including classic and independent films, celebrity visits and contemporary activities. The year 2013 was the zenith for the organization with goal of innovative programming and special guests and we exceeded it in every way.

I had the goal of bringing a famous athlete to the Hasbrouck Heights Library for the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library’s Second Annual “Celebration of Books” event. After the successful visit from Mary Rodgers the year before in 2012,  I wanted to do something to top it.

Freaky Friday 2013

Mary Rodgers with us the year before for the ‘Freaky Friday’ event in 2012

Here’s my write up of that event in 2012 in MywalkinManhattan.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/7663

 

I had been contacting the Giants and Jets organizations for almost six months before the event trying to talk to their PR Departments and it was coming down to the wire. The Jets would not help us and stop responding to my emails and calls.

 

Kevin Boothe I

Kevin Boothe welcoming everyone

Our Library Director had left for vacation and could not be reached and our then President of the organization was at her beach house for the Summer when we got the last minute call that Kevin was available for a visit in a week. We had that one week of opportunity before Training Camp would begin. We jumped at the chance and arranged it for the next Wednesday and all had to pull together to organize the event in one week. When our Library Director arrived back from vacation that Monday, it was all hands on deck for the organization. I don’t think anyone knew how fast and hard we had to work for a one hour visit.

Kevin Boothe at the Hasbrouck Heights Library

The Children’s Librarian at the time, Marie Joyce, jumped in and helped me out. She picked the book “Everyone can learn to Ride a Bicycle” by author Christopher Rashcka as an inspirational book for children to achieve their goals.

 

Raschka Visit II

Author Christopher Rashcka and I in 2016 at the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library event I ran for their library “Teens, Tots & Toys”.  I am holding the book “Everyone can learn to ride a Bicycle”.

Here’s my write up of that event in MywalkinManhattan.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/mywalkinmanhattan.com/3325

 

It was an interesting children’s book about trying something new and accomplishing goals. It is something for kids to learn something new and be proud of it.

 

Kevin Boothe V

Our Children’s Librarian Marie Joyce with Giants player Kevin Boothe

There was a lot of excitement in the library that afternoon as the place filled with children and their parents many of the them coming from the town’s Summer Camp and a lot of them wearing Giants jersey’s. It had been a difficult afternoon as their was so much going on in the building at the time.

Kevin Boothe VI

“Everyone can learn to ride a bicycle” by Christopher Raschka

There was a BCCLS meeting going on in the conference room that had ended by 2:00pm and the Senior’s were having their Summer picnic in the parking lot so parking was at a premium all over the building and they were also ending by 2:00pm. People were scrambling to leave the building as the air conditioning had broken down and they were trying to fix it while the event was going on. It was crazy afternoon.

Our event was at 3:00pm so things were just calming down when Kevin arrived with the Giants representatives. It has always amazed me that people don’t know what goes on behind the scenes before a visit. We had a to scramble to set up the tables for the reception, someone had to buy the food and set the tables and in the meantime someone bought jersey’s for a raffle that I knew nothing about. I was always last to know.

Kevin Boothe had a great football career when we met him. Kevin had been an All American when he played in Pine Crest Prep School in Florida. He played football at Cornell University (my Alma Mater as well), where he was a three time All Ivy League player and a member of the Quill & Dagger Society. Then in 2006 he was drafted in the sixth round by the Oakland Raiders where he played Right Guard for a year before coming to the Giants. He stayed with the Giants from 2007-2013 as a Left Guard and helped the team win Superbowl XLII and XLIV winning both times against New England. Kevin played for one more year with the Giants as a free agent and then finished his last year of play with the Oakland Raiders in 2014.

Kevin Booth VII

Kevin with his son at the Superbowl

I have to say that it was really stuffy in the library that afternoon with all those people and the air conditioning down. Kevin and Marie were both sweating through the reading but it all went by well. They read the book together while the books pages (which had been scanned earlier in the day) were shown to the audience. After the reading was over, we had a Q & A with the audience which all the kids were in awe.

Kevin Boothe II

Kevin at the Q & A with the kids in awe

For a group of small children, they asked some interesting questions especially on playing for the Giants and how he got into football. I was impressed by how he approached the kids and talking to them on their level while being engaging to everyone in the room. One thing was I was impressed with is when he said, ” Whether is its learning to ride a bicycle or playing football like me you can go after any dream in life. If your heart is in the right place, you can achieve anything.” (Patch.com). He talked about winning with the team the two Superbowl’s as the underdog team and how their coach inspired them to win.

After the Q & A, Kevin took a group shot with the kids and we had everyone join in the reception. It then got a little crazy as all the kids wanted autographs. Since Kevin was about to start Training Camp, he had to get back to the stadium as he had other work to do. I had agreed with the Giants Organization that there would be no autograph session as there would be no time but that didn’t stop the kids from banging on the office door where he and everyone else were cooling down in the only room where the air conditioning worked.

Kevin Boothe at the Hasbrouck Heights Library
Two Time Superbowl winning, Three Time All Ivy League and All American Giant’s player, Kevin Boothe visiting the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library.

It was there that we took the picture with members of the Junior Friends of the Library for our group shot. It was a lot to track the kids down in the crowd and keep the other kids from coming in but we got the shot in which also made the Cornell Alumni Magazine.

Kevin Boothe IV

Kevin and I with some of the members of the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library representing Cornell University for the Alumni Magazine

The afternoon ended a little crazy with a raffle I had to run (which I did not know about) and Kevin and the Giants Organization representatives leaving through the backdoor without me having to say goodbye and thank you. Still the reception went by well and the kids ate everything we put out. It was another great success for the Junior Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library and was one of the reasons why we were recognized by the BCCLS organization the next Fall for our outstanding work.

I wanted to dedicate this blog to Kevin Boothe, who made so many children and their parents happy that afternoon. You are a real gentleman and make Cornell University proud!

Cornell University Logo

 

Articles on the event:

Patch.com:

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/ny-giant-star-kevin-boothe-inspires-youngsters-to-follow-their-dreams

https://patch.com/new-jersey/hasbrouckheights/junior-friends-second-annual-celebration-of-books

The Community News:

https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/499942122/

Other Sources:

https://www.century21semiao.com/blog/fernando-semiao/ny-giant-star-kevin-boothe-visits-hasbrouck-heights-library

 

 

Town Minutes:

Click to access 7.23.13.pdf

Chinese New Year at the Asian Grille in East Rutherford, NJ

Day One Hundred and Three: ‘Xin Nian Hao’ ‘Gong Hei Fat Choi’ or “Happy Chinese New Year”! February 2018 (Revisited February 2020 and 2021)

Xin Nian Hao Everyone!

Happy Chinese New Year! (2018) & Happy New Year Again (2020 and 2021)

After a long day in the Soup Kitchen (I have to stop doubling up events on days), instead of finishing the walk of the Upper East Side, I decided to head downtown to Chinatown for the first day of Chinese New Year. What a madhouse!

First off, it was a gloomy day. The clouds kept threatening rain which finally came around 4:00 pm but it did not damper everyone’s spirits. The city closed off the main streets of Chinatown, so people were able to walk around Mott, Mulberry, Bayard, Elizabeth Streets and all the side streets around the core of Chinatown.

It was a very festive afternoon of Lion Dances in front of businesses and a non-stop of silly string and firecrackers going off all over the neighborhood. It was fun watching all the kids with the help of their parents set off these long cylinders of confetti and streamers. Nothing gets lost in the translation of the holiday as it was a very diverse crowd of people enjoying the beginning of the New Year. I was able to walk around the neighborhood and watch all the families having a ball watching the lions and the musicians play music and dance in front of the businesses that requested them.

The meaning of firecrackers translates to ‘Baozhu’ or ‘exploding bamboo’ that was used in early years to scare off the evil spirits at the beginning of the New Year. It seems that there was a legend of a monster called ‘Nain’, who used to destroy homes every New Year and the use of burning bamboo used to pop to scare him away. Bamboo was replaced with the invention of fireworks. The cylinder tubes are all colored ‘red’ which is a lucky color in the Chinese culture.

I watched the Lion Dances all over Chinatown. These according to custom are to ward away evil spirits from the businesses and bring prosperity  for the New Year. There must have been over a dozen of cultural groups from all over the city hired to visit the businesses during the afternoon. It seems that the loud cymbals evict the bad and evil spirits (the picture above is the ‘Lion Dance’ from the  Chinese New Year Celebration that I ran for the Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library in 2011 at the Asian Grill in East Rutherford, NJ).

I walked all over the side streets of Chinatown and stopped in Sara D. Roosevelt Park for the opening festivities of the New Year that were sponsored by Better Chinatown USA. The place was mobbed with people. All the kids were playing games or the families were socializing with one another. It was so busy that I took a walk around the neighborhood, walking through the fringes of what is left of expansion of Chinatown into the Lower East Side, which is quickly gentrifying. The Lower East Side has gotten very hip over the years.

When I rounded the corner at Hester Street, I came across Chicken V (see review on TripAdvisor) at 124C Hester Street, a small Taiwanese fried chicken place that I found out has a branch in Brooklyn. I decided to order something different and got the Chicken Omelet, which was a chicken wing stuffed with fried rice, the popcorn chicken, which was made with thigh meat. I ordinarily hate this but they did a great job with the seasoning and OFC French Fries. Everything had a salty, garlicky taste to it and the popcorn chicken I could taste a hint of ginger and garlic in it. If you like salty food this is the place for you.

Chinatown Parade

Chinese New Year Parade

I walked around the Bowery and crossed back over into the heart of Chinatown as it started to rain. It had been threatening all day and it started to pour after 4:00pm. The last of the Lion Dancers were performing outside a business on Mott Street and all the restaurants at that point were still busy with people wanting to get out of the rain. The streets were quiet but were loaded with the remains of firecracker streamers and confetti.

My last stop in Chinatown before I headed uptown was Sun Sai Gai See review on TripAdvisor & DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) at 220 Canal Street, which has been my go-to place for roast pork buns ($1.00). I love this place. It is a little on the dumpy side but it is one of the best hole-in-the-wall places in Chinatown and I have always enjoyed it.

Sun Sai Gai.png

Sun Sai Gai in Chinatown at 220 Canal Street

As it poured rain, I saw the last of the people begin to leave Chinatown. To celebrate the beginning of the New Year was a lot of fun. There was a lot of energy in Chinatown. People of all ages and races were enjoying the festivities and families really were enjoying their time together.

Chinese New Year 2020:

In 2020, the weather was almost the same thing. The day of the Fire Cracker Festival and Lion Dance it rained and drizzled the whole day. I had to be uptown the whole morning and afternoon so it was a not a nice day to be in Chinatown.

For the parade day, the sun came out and it was really pleasant for most of the parade. With it being an election year, both Congressman Chuck Schumer and Mayor Bill DiBlasio were marching in the parade. So there was a lot of security around. The beginning of the parade had the Lion and Dragon Dances and those were really energetic. The bands really got the crowd going.

Chinese New Year Parade 2020

The Chinese New Year Parade 2020

The Jade Society (the Asian Police Society) and the Phoenix Society (Fire Fighters and Paramedics) were out in full force. I swear the Jade Society has tripled since the last parade I went to two years ago or else they were not all out.

Then came all the floats for all the business and cultural organization. Because of the Flu pandemic going on in China and spreading all over the world, a lot of the groups were handing out literature and giving their support of the Mother Country. Some of the churches were handing out prayer pamphlets.

Chinese New Year Parade 2020 II

The Chinese New Year Parade 2020

The most heartening thing was all the little Girl and Boy Scouts from the local groups. Those kids were so cute. They looked so proud and the parents proud of their children.

The end of the parade it was all political groups and then a long line of sports cars. The parade was over in about an hour or maybe just a little longer. The one thing I did notice was that the crowd was not the same as usual. It usually is much busier in Chinatown for the parade and I could see that the gift shops had a lot Chinese poppers and firecrackers left over, more than usual. Two years ago everyone sold out by the end of the parade and there were none to be found. This year they started to discount them as soon as the parade was over.

This Chinese flu is really scaring people and I think it kept them away from Chinatown today. I have never seen the parade route so quiet or the restaurants busy but not as busy as usual this year. It has really spooked people this year.

Still for the most part is was a sunny day and as the afternoon wore down it got a little cooler. I just went around visiting my favorite snack shops like Tao Hong Bakery at 81 Chrystie Street and Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street for lunch and dessert. I swear the ‘Hipsters’ have discovered both places and most of the customers now are white. It is such a change from ten years ago where it was mostly locals.

Chinese Buns III

Don’t miss the delicious buns at Sun Sai Gai

Chi Dumpling House (see reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) is one of my favorite places to eat. It is really bare bones but their steamed and fried dumplings you can get eight for $3.00 and that is a steal. Their soups are really good on a cold day especially their hot and sour soup. Their noodle dishes are wonderful and the portion sizes are rather large.

Tao Hung Bakery

Tao Hung Bakery at 81 Chrystie Street

I still go to my old favorites Tao Hong Bakery 81 Chrystie Street and Sun Sai Gai at 220 Canal Street for my favorite Cream, Roast Pork and Pineapple buns. At between $1.00 to $1.50 they are well worth the money. It really warrants a trip to Chinatown.

Chi Dumpling House

Don’t miss Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street for their delicious dumplings

Even though there was a damper on the parade with the flu scare, people were in good spirits and looked like they were having a good time. That’s where the fun really is in celebrating what is positive in this crazy world.

This CBS Report is what the mood is right now:

(I credit CBS News for this report)

Sorry folks but that can’t keep me away from Chinatown. It will always throw my support first to small business people and restaurateurs. This why I created the sites LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com to support businesses not just in New York City but all over the Tri-State area. I think in this economy such support is necessary.

Isn’t it what the New Year is all about?

Gong Hei Fat Choi!

There was an underlining problem on parade day of the Coronavirus outbreak in China and how it affected business that day. Here is a video shot later on that tells the story since Chinese New Year:

When things head back to normal, head back to Chinatown for lunch or dinner.

Chinese New Year in 2021:

I returned to Chinatown for Chinese New Year 2021 and what a change to the neighborhood in just a year. I have never seen so many “For Rent” signs in the core of Chinatown. This pandemic has destroyed so many well-known businesses. Not just restaurants and snack shops that could not adjust to the take out business that many places have had to adopt to now. It was well known gift shops, hair and nail salons, body massage businesses and several well-known bakeries.

When I saw a sign on the Lung Moon Bakery 83 Mulberry Street (visit my reviews on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor) that the bakery closed its doors after 53 years in business that is telling you there are problems here. Sun Sai Gai at 220 Canal Street (visit my reviews as well on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor as well), which has been there for over 30 years has been closed as well and I am not sure if it is going to be reopened. This is heart breaking because these were my go-to places for years.

The weird part was it was not just on Mott Street, the heart of Chinatown, but on the side streets off Mott and outer parts of the neighborhood reaching out to East Broadway and into parts of the Lower East Side like Hester and Henry Streets. It is not just in Chinatown because at the end of the evening I walked up to Little Moony at 230 Mulberry Street (visit my review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor) to see if that store was still open and walked through the heart of Little Italy Mulberry Street.

Three well known restaurants had closed for business including Angelo’s and Luna which has been mainstays of the neighborhood for over 40 years. A lot store fronts were dark here as well and slowly but surely NoLiTa (North of Little Italy) is creeping further and further into Little Italy. Even the two well known Chinese restaurants on Mulberry Street are now closed for business.

My journey on this gloomy Saturday morning started when I took the C train down to Canal Street and started to walk around Lower Manhattan to see what was open and not. The City had lifted its ban on indoor dining, I think too little to late, for Chinese New Year and Valentines Day. Still even with the 25% indoor dining allowed, people choose to eat outside or else some of the restaurants were not ready to open indoor dining. On a 30 degree day I could not believe that people wanted to eat outside. Even bundling under heat lamps does not make pleasant dining. The mood was festive but people were cold.

It was the second day of Chinese New Year and there were not that many people out in the streets as I thought there would be. In the early morning, there were small groups of people walking around but not the throngs of people on parade day. Last year, the Chinese New Year Parade was very subdued and there were not that many people around the route. The parade was cancelled this year and even though there were lights and decorations all over Mott Street there was not a lot of people walking around.

Chinese New Year 2021

Chinese New Year 2021-Mott Street

When I visited the provision and grocery stores in the neighborhood, they were mobbed with people doing their grocery shopping telling me that people were opting to stay home and have small intimate dinners with their families. This is where I saw no social distancing.

My project today was to see not just what was happening for the New Year but to visit many of the stores and restaurants I had mentioned on my blogs to see if they were still open. Thankfully many of the establishments that were already take-out were surviving the storm. Plus I came with an appetite.

My first stop was Fried Dumpling on 106 Moscoe Street, a little hole in the wall for fried pork and chive dumplings. The owner/chef is a real hoot. I am figuring she changed her prices and serving sizes to increase sales because I ordered 17 dumplings for $5.00 which I thought was too much to eat but ended up devouring all the them in record time while sitting next to the bathrooms in Columbus Park just off Mott Street. In the summer months this park is packed with people but with the two feet snow piles and over flowing garbage cans, it was not the best place to eat. Even with the cold weather, these delicious little pan-fried pork and chive dumplings can warm any heart in the New Year.

Fried Dumpling

Fried Dumpling at 106 Moscoe Street

After this snack that warmed me up I walked all over the neighborhood, walking the side streets and the Bowery which is the northern border of the traditional neighborhood. Again many of the well known restaurants and stores were either empty or closed for the New Year celebrations.

I walked up and down the side streets of Chinatown that border with Mott Street along Bayard, Pell, Henry, Division and East Broadway to look at the status of restaurants that I enjoy and have written about and to see what is still open there as well. It has not been pretty.

Dumplings at 25B Henry Street, one of the few places left in Chinatown where you can get five dumplings for $1.00 is closed except for takeout (visit my reviews on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor). That was always the fun of this place was squeezing in and having their delicious pork and chive dumplings. I was always sharing soy sauce with the kids from the local school that would come here for a snack and I would listen in on their very adult sounding conversations.

Dumplings on Henry Street

Dumplings at 25B Henry Street

Walking up the side streets until I got to the Manhattan Bridge was just as upsetting, There were so many closed businesses on all of these streets that I wondered where the locals were eating and shopping. What really surprised me was how many art galleries had opened in the places where provision stores and small restaurants had once been. When I started to see white twenty year olds walking out of the tenements in the neighborhood, I knew that it would not be long until this whole area started to gentrify.

The walk took me further into the Lower East Side then I had ever been. I walked down the length of Catherine Street to the river and then turned around and walked down Market to the park under the Manhattan Bridge to watch the skate boarders. Those kids were really talented. They were performing some amazing tricks.

I stopped at this little deli, the K & K Food Deli at 57 Market Street just to take a peek inside. The cook was so friendly to me that I felt I should get something. Even after the 17 dumplings I was still hungry and I ordered a Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a roll ($3.25). It was mind-blowingly good. The roll was fresh chewy and soft and the perfect combination of scrambled eggs with the cheese melted just perfect and crisp bacon. On this cool now afternoon it really warmed me up and I devoured it while I walked along Cherry Street.

K & K Food Deli

K & K Food Deli at 57 Market Street

This area of the City is all housing projects and even in the small park in between them all it was really quiet. The one thing I find when I visit the areas around the projects is the assortment of restaurants are so creative with their menus and they are so reasonable. I just popped in and out and looked at their menus.

I walked around Little Flower Park at Madison and Jefferson Street, which lines all the housing complexes and was watching as kids were using the swings in snow drifts. I thought that was dedication of wanting to get outside as the weather grew colder that day.

I walked back down Madison Street and around Monroe Street and back up Market Street to get to the foot of the Manhattan Bridge entrance and then walked around that to Chrystie Street. Then I made the turn to see if my favorite group of restaurants were still open Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street , Wah Fung Number One at 79 Chrystie Street and Tao Hong Bakery at 81 Chrystie Street. I called this stretch of Chrystie Street the ‘triple threat’ as these three restaurants are mind blowing and the best part reasonable (visit my reviews on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor).

Chi Dumpling House

Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street

Even after 17 dumplings and a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich I was still hungry so I stopped in at Chi Dumpling House for steamed dumplings and scallion pancakes. This little hole in the wall has the most amazing food and for $5.00 I got an order of steamed dumplings ($3.00) and an order of scallion pancakes ($2.00). Both were just excellent.

Because there was no indoor dining in the restaurant yet, I had to eat them in the park across the street. In between the snow piles and the pigeons, I found a place to sit down. The dumplings and the scallion pancake let off so much steam you could see it in the air. The scallion pancake was loaded with freshly chopped scallions and was pan-fried to be crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The dumplings were plump and bursting with juice when I topped them with soy and hot chili sauce. They warmed me up at the day grew colder.

I walked back through Mott Street and saw many people twisting poppers and letting streamers into the air. About a dozen people got into it and were having a good time blocking traffic. It was nice to see a little celebrating that day.

My last stop on the agenda was Sweets bakery, one of my favorites in Chinatown at 135 Walker Street, which is right across the street from Sun Sai Gai. The pastries here are just excellent and I have never had a bad baked item from here. I treated myself to an Egg Custard tart ($1.50) and a Pineapple Bun ($1.25). Both had just been baked and were still warm. I started eating them as soon as I left the store to explore Little Italy.

Egg Custard

The Egg Custard Tarts at Sweets Bakery are amazing

I devoured them before I crossed the street. The egg custard had a rich creamy texture and was still warm when I made each bite. The taste of the butter in the tart and the eggs was so good. The Pineapple Bun was made of a rich dough and topped with a sweet crumb topping that crackled when I bit into it. It was a nice way to end this ongoing meal.

Walking through Little Italy was just as bad as Chinatown. The main thoroughfare, Mulberry Street was like looking at Mott Street. Some of the most famous restaurants closed like Luna and Angelo’s. I could not believe how many empty store fronts were open. Even for a Saturday night it was really quiet. There were a few people eating inside.

What I did notice just like in Chinatown was that NoLiTa (North of Little Italy) was creeping further and further down Mulberry Street and the surrounding blocks. All of a sudden all these little trendy stores and restaurants started opening up where the Italian restaurants once lined the streets.

I reached my destination, Little Moony at 230 Mulberry Street (visit my review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com), one of the nicest children’s stores in Manhattan and one of the most creative. I was so happy to see that they were still open. I felt a little over-whelmed because the owner was showering attention on me as I was here only customer. She looked determined to sell me something. I guess I looked like a high spender. I was polite and looked around. As a store it is so visually appealing with the greatest window displays.

Little Moony

Little Moony at 230 Mulberry Street

The owner showed me all the new clothing that had come in, the artisan toys she was carrying and some new books carried. If I had someone to buy something for I would have bought something. The merchandise is that nice. I was just afraid that she had closed.

I walked back down Mulberry Street again surprised by the number of people in the restaurants and the number of new buildings opening up on the lower part of Mulberry Street. I do not even give it five years before the entire core of Little Italy is just a block if that.

I walked back to the A train up Canal Street and looked at the buildings in various stages of renovations. I have to say one thing that the City is still progressing as COVID still goes on. It is like walking through NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park), the neighborhood just keeps getting sandblasted and going through another stage of its life.

Maybe this is what the New Year is about, new beginnings and new life to something. Even though there was no formal parade, there was still the feeling that the New Year was here and let’s hope it is a better New Year!

Happy New Year in 2021! Gong Hei Fat Choi!Open document settingsOpen publish panel

Chinatown Restaurants in 2021

Chinese New Year 2021: Trying their best to celebrate and spread cheer

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Places to Visit:

Chinatown New York City

All Along Mott, Canal, Bayard and Chrystie Streets and Sara Delano Roosevelt Park

Every February for the start of the Lunar New Year Festival (Started January 28th in 2020)

Places to Eat:

Chicken V (now closed for business)

124C Hester Street

New York, NY  10002

http://www.OFCchicken.com

(718) 255-9222

Sun Sai Gai (now closed)

220 Canal Street

New York, NY 10013

(212) 964-7212

Open: Please call the restaurant for hours update

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d534662-Reviews-Sun_Sai_Gai-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/115

Tao Hong Bakery

81 Chrystie Street

New York, NY  10002

(212) 219-0987

Open: Sunday-Saturday: 7:00am-7:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d15083570-Reviews-Tao_Hung_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/750

Chi Dumpling House

77 Chrystie Street

New York, NY  10002

Telephone: (212) 219-8850

My review on TripAdvisor:

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4277315-Reviews-C_L_Dumpling_House-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905 Sunday-Saturday-10:00am-10:00pm

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/727

Fried Dumpling

106 Moscoe Street

New York, NY  10013

(212) 693-1060

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-9:00pm

http://www.fried-dumpling.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d1020157-Reviews-Fried_Dumpling-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1066

Xin Nian Hao Everyone!

Happy Chinese New Year! (2018) & Happy New Year Again (2020)

After a long day in the Soup Kitchen (I have to stop doubling up events on days), instead of finishing the walk of the Upper East Side, I decided to head downtown to Chinatown for the first day of Chinese New Year. What a madhouse!

First off, it was a gloomy day. The clouds kept threatening rain which finally came around 4:00 pm but it did not damper everyone’s spirits. The city closed off the main streets of Chinatown, so people were able to walk around Mott, Mulberry, Bayard, Elizabeth Streets and all the side streets around the core of Chinatown.

It was a very festive afternoon of Lion Dances in front of businesses and a non-stop of silly string and firecrackers going off all over the neighborhood. It was fun watching all the kids with the help of their parents set off these long cylinders of confetti and streamers. Nothing gets lost in the translation of the holiday as it was a very diverse crowd of people enjoying the beginning of the New Year. I was able to walk around the neighborhood and watch all the families having a ball watching the lions and the musicians play music and dance in front of the businesses that requested them.

The meaning of firecrackers translates to ‘Baozhu’ or ‘exploding bamboo’ that was used in early years to scare off the evil spirits at the beginning of the New Year. It seems that there was a legend of a monster called ‘Nain’, who used to destroy homes every New Year and the use of burning bamboo used to pop to scare him away. Bamboo was replaced with the invention of fireworks. The cylinder tubes are all colored ‘red’ which is a lucky color in the Chinese culture.

I watched the Lion Dances all over Chinatown. These according to custom are to ward away evil spirits from the businesses and bring prosperity  for the New Year. There must have been over a dozen of cultural groups from all over the city hired to visit the businesses during the afternoon. It seems that the loud cymbals evict the bad and evil spirits (the picture above is the ‘Lion Dance’ from the  Chinese New Year Celebration that I ran for the Friends of the Hasbrouck Heights Library in 2011 at the Asian Grill in East Rutherford, NJ).

I walked all over the side streets of Chinatown and stopped in Sara D. Roosevelt Park for the opening festivities of the New Year that were sponsored by Better Chinatown USA. The place was mobbed with people. All the kids were playing games or the families were socializing with one another. It was so busy that I took a walk around the neighborhood, walking through the fringes of what is left of expansion of Chinatown into the Lower East Side, which is quickly gentrifying. The Lower East Side has gotten very hip over the years.

When I rounded the corner at Hester Street, I came across Chicken V (see review on TripAdvisor) at 124C Hester Street, a small Taiwanese fried chicken place that I found out has a branch in Brooklyn. I decided to order something different and got the Chicken Omelet, which was a chicken wing stuffed with fried rice, the popcorn chicken, which was made with thigh meat. I ordinarily hate this but they did a great job with the seasoning and OFC French Fries. Everything had a salty, garlicky taste to it and the popcorn chicken I could taste a hint of ginger and garlic in it. If you like salty food this is the place for you.

Chinatown Parade

Chinese New Year Parade

I walked around the Bowery and crossed back over into the heart of Chinatown as it started to rain. It had been threatening all day and it started to pour after 4:00pm. The last of the Lion Dancers were performing outside a business on Mott Street and all the restaurants at that point were still busy with people wanting to get out of the rain. The streets were quiet but were loaded with the remains of firecracker streamers and confetti.

My last stop in Chinatown before I headed uptown was Sun Sai Gai See review on TripAdvisor & DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) at 220 Canal Street, which has been my go-to place for roast pork buns ($1.00). I love this place. It is a little on the dumpy side but it is one of the best hole-in-the-wall places in Chinatown and I have always enjoyed it.

Sun Sai Gai.png

Sun Sai Gai in Chinatown at 220 Canal Street

As it poured rain, I saw the last of the people begin to leave Chinatown. To celebrate the beginning of the New Year was a lot of fun. There was a lot of energy in Chinatown. People of all ages and races were enjoying the festivities and families really were enjoying their time together.

Chinese New Year 2020:

In 2020, the weather was almost the same thing. The day of the Fire Cracker Festival and Lion Dance it rained and drizzled the whole day. I had to be uptown the whole morning and afternoon so it was a not a nice day to be in Chinatown.

For the parade day, the sun came out and it was really pleasant for most of the parade. With it being an election year, both Congressman Chuck Schumer and Mayor Bill DiBlasio were marching in the parade. So there was a lot of security around. The beginning of the parade had the Lion and Dragon Dances and those were really energetic. The bands really got the crowd going.

Chinese New Year Parade 2020

The Chinese New Year Parade 2020

The Jade Society (the Asian Police Society) and the Phoenix Society (Fire Fighters and Paramedics) were out in full force. I swear the Jade Society has tripled since the last parade I went to two years ago or else they were not all out.

Then came all the floats for all the business and cultural organization. Because of the Flu pandemic going on in China and spreading all over the world, a lot of the groups were handing out literature and giving their support of the Mother Country. Some of the churches were handing out prayer pamphlets.

Chinese New Year Parade 2020 II

The Chinese New Year Parade 2020

The most heartening thing was all the little Girl and Boy Scouts from the local groups. Those kids were so cute. They looked so proud and the parents proud of their children.

The end of the parade it was all political groups and then a long line of sports cars. The parade was over in about an hour or maybe just a little longer. The one thing I did notice was that the crowd was not the same as usual. It usually is much busier in Chinatown for the parade and I could see that the gift shops had a lot Chinese poppers and firecrackers left over, more than usual. Two years ago everyone sold out by the end of the parade and there were none to be found. This year they started to discount them as soon as the parade was over.

This Chinese flu is really scaring people and I think it kept them away from Chinatown today. I have never seen the parade route so quiet or the restaurants busy but not as busy as usual this year. It has really spooked people this year.

Still for the most part is was a sunny day and as the afternoon wore down it got a little cooler. I just went around visiting my favorite snack shops like Tao Hong Bakery at 81 Chrystie Street and Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street for lunch and dessert. I swear the ‘Hipsters’ have discovered both places and most of the customers now are white. It is such a change from ten years ago where it was mostly locals.

Chinese Buns III

Don’t miss the delicious buns at Sun Sai Gai

Chi Dumpling House (see reviews on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com) is one of my favorite places to eat. It is really bare bones but their steamed and fried dumplings you can get eight for $3.00 and that is a steal. Their soups are really good on a cold day especially their hot and sour soup. Their noodle dishes are wonderful and the portion sizes are rather large.

Tao Hung Bakery

Tao Hung Bakery at 81 Chrystie Street

I still go to my old favorites Tao Hong Bakery 81 Chrystie Street and Sun Sai Gai at 220 Canal Street for my favorite Cream, Roast Pork and Pineapple buns. At between $1.00 to $1.50 they are well worth the money. It really warrants a trip to Chinatown.

Chi Dumpling House

Don’t miss Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street for their delicious dumplings

Even though there was a damper on the parade with the flu scare, people were in good spirits and looked like they were having a good time. That’s where the fun really is in celebrating what is positive in this crazy world.

This CBS Report is what the mood is right now:

(I credit CBS News for this report)

Sorry folks but that can’t keep me away from Chinatown. It will always throw my support first to small business people and restaurateurs. This why I created the sites LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com to support businesses not just in New York City but all over the Tri-State area. I think in this economy such support is necessary.

Isn’t it what the New Year is all about?

Gong Hei Fat Choi!

There was an underlining problem on parade day of the Coronavirus outbreak in China and how it affected business that day. Here is a video shot later on that tells the story since Chinese New Year:

When things head back to normal, head back to Chinatown for lunch or dinner.

Chinese New Year in 2021:

I returned to Chinatown for Chinese New Year 2021 and what a change to the neighborhood in just a year. I have never seen so many “For Rent” signs in the core of Chinatown. This pandemic has destroyed so many well-known businesses. Not just restaurants and snack shops that could not adjust to the take out business that many places have had to adopt to now. It was well known gift shops, hair and nail salons, body massage businesses and several well-known bakeries.

When I saw a sign on the Lung Moon Bakery 83 Mulberry Street (visit my reviews on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor) that the bakery closed its doors after 53 years in business that is telling you there are problems here. Sun Sai Gai at 220 Canal Street (visit my reviews as well on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor as well), which has been there for over 30 years has been closed as well and I am not sure if it is going to be reopened. This is heart breaking because these were my go-to places for years.

The weird part was it was not just on Mott Street, the heart of Chinatown, but on the side streets off Mott and outer parts of the neighborhood reaching out to East Broadway and into parts of the Lower East Side like Hester and Henry Streets. It is not just in Chinatown because at the end of the evening I walked up to Little Moony at 230 Mulberry Street (visit my review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor) to see if that store was still open and walked through the heart of Little Italy Mulberry Street.

Three well known restaurants had closed for business including Angelo’s and Luna which has been mainstays of the neighborhood for over 40 years. A lot store fronts were dark here as well and slowly but surely NoLiTa (North of Little Italy) is creeping further and further into Little Italy. Even the two well known Chinese restaurants on Mulberry Street are now closed for business.

My journey on this gloomy Saturday morning started when I took the C train down to Canal Street and started to walk around Lower Manhattan to see what was open and not. The City had lifted its ban on indoor dining, I think too little to late, for Chinese New Year and Valentines Day. Still even with the 25% indoor dining allowed, people choose to eat outside or else some of the restaurants were not ready to open indoor dining. On a 30 degree day I could not believe that people wanted to eat outside. Even bundling under heat lamps does not make pleasant dining. The mood was festive but people were cold.

It was the second day of Chinese New Year and there were not that many people out in the streets as I thought there would be. In the early morning, there were small groups of people walking around but not the throngs of people on parade day. Last year, the Chinese New Year Parade was very subdued and there were not that many people around the route. The parade was cancelled this year and even though there were lights and decorations all over Mott Street there was not a lot of people walking around.

Chinese New Year 2021

Chinese New Year 2021-Mott Street

When I visited the provision and grocery stores in the neighborhood, they were mobbed with people doing their grocery shopping telling me that people were opting to stay home and have small intimate dinners with their families. This is where I saw no social distancing.

My project today was to see not just what was happening for the New Year but to visit many of the stores and restaurants I had mentioned on my blogs to see if they were still open. Thankfully many of the establishments that were already take-out were surviving the storm. Plus I came with an appetite.

My first stop was Fried Dumpling on 106 Moscoe Street, a little hole in the wall for fried pork and chive dumplings. The owner/chef is a real hoot. I am figuring she changed her prices and serving sizes to increase sales because I ordered 17 dumplings for $5.00 which I thought was too much to eat but ended up devouring all the them in record time while sitting next to the bathrooms in Columbus Park just off Mott Street. In the summer months this park is packed with people but with the two feet snow piles and over flowing garbage cans, it was not the best place to eat. Even with the cold weather, these delicious little pan-fried pork and chive dumplings can warm any heart in the New Year.

Fried Dumpling

Fried Dumpling at 106 Moscoe Street

After this snack that warmed me up I walked all over the neighborhood, walking the side streets and the Bowery which is the northern border of the traditional neighborhood. Again many of the well known restaurants and stores were either empty or closed for the New Year celebrations.

I walked up and down the side streets of Chinatown that border with Mott Street along Bayard, Pell, Henry, Division and East Broadway to look at the status of restaurants that I enjoy and have written about and to see what is still open there as well. It has not been pretty.

Dumplings at 25B Henry Street, one of the few places left in Chinatown where you can get five dumplings for $1.00 is closed except for takeout (visit my reviews on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor). That was always the fun of this place was squeezing in and having their delicious pork and chive dumplings. I was always sharing soy sauce with the kids from the local school that would come here for a snack and I would listen in on their very adult sounding conversations.

Dumplings on Henry Street

Dumplings at 25B Henry Street

Walking up the side streets until I got to the Manhattan Bridge was just as upsetting, There were so many closed businesses on all of these streets that I wondered where the locals were eating and shopping. What really surprised me was how many art galleries had opened in the places where provision stores and small restaurants had once been. When I started to see white twenty year olds walking out of the tenements in the neighborhood, I knew that it would not be long until this whole area started to gentrify.

The walk took me further into the Lower East Side then I had ever been. I walked down the length of Catherine Street to the river and then turned around and walked down Market to the park under the Manhattan Bridge to watch the skate boarders. Those kids were really talented. They were performing some amazing tricks.

I stopped at this little deli, the K & K Food Deli at 57 Market Street just to take a peek inside. The cook was so friendly to me that I felt I should get something. Even after the 17 dumplings I was still hungry and I ordered a Bacon, Egg and Cheese on a roll ($3.25). It was mind-blowingly good. The roll was fresh chewy and soft and the perfect combination of scrambled eggs with the cheese melted just perfect and crisp bacon. On this cool now afternoon it really warmed me up and I devoured it while I walked along Cherry Street.

K & K Food Deli

K & K Food Deli at 57 Market Street

This area of the City is all housing projects and even in the small park in between them all it was really quiet. The one thing I find when I visit the areas around the projects is the assortment of restaurants are so creative with their menus and they are so reasonable. I just popped in and out and looked at their menus.

I walked around Little Flower Park at Madison and Jefferson Street, which lines all the housing complexes and was watching as kids were using the swings in snow drifts. I thought that was dedication of wanting to get outside as the weather grew colder that day.

I walked back down Madison Street and around Monroe Street and back up Market Street to get to the foot of the Manhattan Bridge entrance and then walked around that to Chrystie Street. Then I made the turn to see if my favorite group of restaurants were still open Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street , Wah Fung Number One at 79 Chrystie Street and Tao Hong Bakery at 81 Chrystie Street. I called this stretch of Chrystie Street the ‘triple threat’ as these three restaurants are mind blowing and the best part reasonable (visit my reviews on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com and TripAdvisor).

Chi Dumpling House

Chi Dumpling House at 77 Chrystie Street

Even after 17 dumplings and a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich I was still hungry so I stopped in at Chi Dumpling House for steamed dumplings and scallion pancakes. This little hole in the wall has the most amazing food and for $5.00 I got an order of steamed dumplings ($3.00) and an order of scallion pancakes ($2.00). Both were just excellent.

Because there was no indoor dining in the restaurant yet, I had to eat them in the park across the street. In between the snow piles and the pigeons, I found a place to sit down. The dumplings and the scallion pancake let off so much steam you could see it in the air. The scallion pancake was loaded with freshly chopped scallions and was pan-fried to be crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The dumplings were plump and bursting with juice when I topped them with soy and hot chili sauce. They warmed me up at the day grew colder.

I walked back through Mott Street and saw many people twisting poppers and letting streamers into the air. About a dozen people got into it and were having a good time blocking traffic. It was nice to see a little celebrating that day.

Sweets Bakery

Sweets Bakery at 135 Walker Street

My last stop on the agenda was Sweets bakery, one of my favorites in Chinatown at 135 Walker Street, which is right across the street from Sun Sai Gai. The pastries here are just excellent and I have never had a bad baked item from here. I treated myself to an Egg Custard tart ($1.50) and a Pineapple Bun ($1.25). Both had just been baked and were still warm. I started eating them as soon as I left the store to explore Little Italy.

Egg Custard

The Egg Custard Tarts at Sweets Bakery are amazing

I devoured them before I crossed the street. The egg custard had a rich creamy texture and was still warm when I made each bite. The taste of the butter in the tart and the eggs was so good. The Pineapple Bun was made of a rich dough and topped with a sweet crumb topping that crackled when I bit into it. It was a nice way to end this ongoing meal.

Walking through Little Italy was just as bad as Chinatown. The main thoroughfare, Mulberry Street was like looking at Mott Street. Some of the most famous restaurants closed like Luna and Angelo’s. I could not believe how many empty store fronts were open. Even for a Saturday night it was really quiet. There were a few people eating inside.

What I did notice just like in Chinatown was that NoLiTa (North of Little Italy) was creeping further and further down Mulberry Street and the surrounding blocks. All of a sudden all these little trendy stores and restaurants started opening up where the Italian restaurants once lined the streets.

I reached my destination, Little Moony at 230 Mulberry Street (visit my review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com), one of the nicest children’s stores in Manhattan and one of the most creative. I was so happy to see that they were still open. I felt a little over-whelmed because the owner was showering attention on me as I was here only customer. She looked determined to sell me something. I guess I looked like a high spender. I was polite and looked around. As a store it is so visually appealing with the greatest window displays.

Little Moony

Little Moony at 230 Mulberry Street

The owner showed me all the new clothing that had come in, the artisan toys she was carrying and some new books carried. If I had someone to buy something for I would have bought something. The merchandise is that nice. I was just afraid that she had closed.

I walked back down Mulberry Street again surprised by the number of people in the restaurants and the number of new buildings opening up on the lower part of Mulberry Street. I do not even give it five years before the entire core of Little Italy is just a block if that.

I walked back to the A train up Canal Street and looked at the buildings in various stages of renovations. I have to say one thing that the City is still progressing as COVID still goes on. It is like walking through NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park), the neighborhood just keeps getting sandblasted and going through another stage of its life.

Maybe this is what the New Year is about, new beginnings and new life to something. Even though there was no formal parade, there was still the feeling that the New Year was here and let’s hope it is a better New Year!

Happy New Year in 2021! Gong Hei Fat Choi

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Chinese New Year 2021: Much more subdued

We need to help Chinatown Businesses in the 2021 New Year!

Places to Visit:

Chinatown New York City

All Along Mott, Canal, Bayard and Chrystie Streets and Sara Delano Roosevelt Park

Every February for the start of the Lunar New Year Festival (Started January 28th in 2020 and February 12th in 2021)

Places to Eat:

Chicken V (now closed for business)

124C Hester Street

New York, NY  10002

http://www.OFCchicken.com

(718) 255-9222

Sun Sai Gai (now closed)

220 Canal Street

New York, NY 10013

(212) 964-7212

Open: Please call the restaurant for hours update

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d534662-Reviews-Sun_Sai_Gai-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/115

Tao Hong Bakery

81 Chrystie Street

New York, NY  10002

(212) 219-0987

Open: Sunday-Saturday: 7:00am-7:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d15083570-Reviews-Tao_Hung_Bakery-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/750

Chi Dumpling House

77 Chrystie Street

New York, NY  10002

Telephone: (212) 219-8850

My review on TripAdvisor:

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-10:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d4277315-Reviews-C_L_Dumpling_House-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905 Sunday-Saturday-10:00am-10:00pm

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/727

Fried Dumpling

106 Moscoe Street

New York, NY  10013

(212) 693-1060

Open: Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-9:00pm

http://www.fried-dumpling.com/

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d1020157-Reviews-Fried_Dumpling-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/1066

Sweets Bakery

125 Walker Street

New York, NY  10013

(212) 219-2012

Open: Sunday-Saturday-9:00am-8:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d10901318-Reviews-Sweets-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/576

Dumplings (Jin Mei) (Closed Take Out only)

25B Henry Street

New York, NY  10002

(212) 608-8962

Open: Sunday-Saturday-8:00am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d5451975-Reviews-Dumplings-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/diningonashoestringinnyc.wordpress.com/237

K & K Food Deli

57 Market Street

New York, NY  10002

(212) 964-6286

Open: Sunday-Saturday 6:00am-11:30pm

http://places.singleplatform.com/k–k-deli/menu?ref=google

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.in/Restaurant_Review-g60763-d15168340-Reviews-K_K_Food_Deli-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

Places to Visit:

Little Italy runs now from Canal Street up to Grand Street

NoLiTa runs from Grand Street up to Houston Street

Little Moony

230 Mulberry Street

New York, NY  10012

(646) 852-8330

https://www.littlemoony.com/

Open: Sunday 11:00am-7:00pm/Monday-Thursday 10:00am-8:00pm/Friday & Saturday 10:00am-9:00pm

My review on TripAdvisor:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60763-d15351971-Reviews-Little_Moony-New_York_City_New_York.html?m=19905

My review on LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com:

https://wordpress.com/post/littleshoponmainstreet.wordpress.com/535

rdpress.com/727

The Second Annual Teens Tots & Toys at the Lodi Memorial

Day Sixty-One: The Second Annual “Teens, Tots & Toys” holiday event with Best-Selling Author and Caldecott Medal Winner Christopher Raschka with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library December 10, 2016

This is the second time I have hosted the “Teens, Tots & Toys” holiday event at the Lodi Memorial Library. The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library created “Teens, Tots & Toys” as an alternative to many libraries having a “Story Time with Santa” event that can  leave  out some children who don’t celebrate Christmas.

Our mascot for the event, “Tinker Street” was created by myself to set the tone for the event and can be seen on YouTube in the video from last year’s event with special invited guest, US & World Figure Skater Elaine Zayak and with this year’s event with Best Selling and Caldecott Medal Winner, Christopher Raschka. We were so happy that two such prominent people wanted to join us for this event.

Raschka Visit II

Chris and I at “Teens, Tots & Toys”

The premise for “Teens, Tots & Tots” is as a holiday event that caters to all children and their families.  The Friends wanted to build the event on having a toy drive, a celebrity visit and showing a holiday movie. Last year, we donated toys and books to the Emmanuel Cancer Center in Midland Park, NJ. This is in partnership with the library when they run their Annual Gingerbread House Making event.

This holiday season we were very excited when Best-Selling Children’s Author and Caldecott Medal, Christopher Raschka, decided to join us. I have to admit, we had a lot of communication between each other for over a year and there were a lot of emails going back and forth and time commitments we both had and I was glad that he could join us for our holiday event. I was very excited that he was coming to our library. As the expression says. “Good things come to those who wait” and the visit went beyond my expectations. Everyone had a such a good time.

I had first become acquainted with Chris’s work  when a few years earlier I had done another event at my old library with Giant’s player and fellow Cornell University Alumni, Kevin Boothe. Kevin had read from the inspirational book that Chris wrote and illustrated, “Everyone can learn to Ride a Bicycle”. I thought the illustrations were very unique and creative and that is when I thought it would be interesting to have the author come out to the library. It took almost a year and a half of planning.

Kevin Boothe at the HHL II

Giants Player Kevin Boothe reading “Everyone Can Learn to Ride A Bicycle”.

Chris Raschka is a graduate of St. Olaf College in Minnesota who graduated with a degree in Biology. He also has a love for music as he was a member of both the Ann Arbor and Flint Symphony Orchestra’s. While working as an intern at a children’s orthopedic clinic in Germany, he experienced an interest in working with children.

He has received many awards and recognition’s for his work. In 1992, he won the Best Books of the Year citation, the Publisher’s Weekly, the Notable Children’s Book citation, the American Library Association (ALA) and the Pick of the Lists citation, the American Booksellers Association, all for ‘Charlie Parker Played Be Bop’. In 1994, he received the Caldecott Honor Book Award and he was the ALA and US winner of the UNICEF-Ezra Jack Keats award, both for ‘Yo! Yes?’. In 2005, he received the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award nomination for ‘The Hello, Goodbye Window’.

Chris Raschka was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 2006 for his illustrations in the ‘Hello, Goodbye Window’, written by Norton Juster (one of my hands down favorite authors since I was a kid and the author of the ‘Phantom Tollbooth’), a story about a child’s visit to her grandparents. In 2012, he won his second Caldecott Medal for his wordless children’s book, ‘A Ball for Daisy’, that chronicles a little dogs loss of his most prized possession and is a tale of loss, recovery and friendship. We were very lucky that he read from both of these books and from’ Yo! Yes?’

This was no ordinary author visit in that the author sat down, read the books and then led a discussion.  Chris got up and engaged the audience with storytelling, acting and illustrations. I have seen many book signings but none like this.

Chris could not have been more personable with both the adults and the children in the audience and had the younger set completely engaged in his books. We first started off with a introduction of his work and a little about himself. Chris started his program with a drawing of his two cats. These two amusing drawings of the little cats made quite an impression on the kids, many of whom had pets at home.

What impressed me the most is when he got the children from the audience to get up and act out his books in character. You don’t see many authors doing that. Chris had children who volunteered from the audience act out the books ‘Yo! Yes?’ , ‘Goosey Goose’ and ‘Buggy Bug’ in a series of short plays. The kids were really excited to get up and act. He also got the audience to participate as well .

Then he did a series of drawings creating pictures using people’s names. He took kids from the audience and asked them to write out their names and then developed a figure of the letters of the names.  The best part was each of the children were able to take the picture home. I have the most unusual picture of a person using the my name “Justin” (Yes, I did have it framed).

Raschka XII

Chris engaging with the children of Lodi, NJ

Chris followed this with a book discussion of the Caldecott Medal Winning book ‘A Ball for Daisy”, the all picture book. He went through all the frames of the book and then got a group of the children to get up and act out the book using some balloons as props for the ball. He really got the kids to use their emotions in the play and it made the rest of the program very personal because the children could relate to him as another kid. Chris knew how to enter their world.

During the question and answer session, the children had some very interesting questions on how he published his books, where he got his ideas and he put his books together. He even explained how he came up with the idea for ‘A Ball for Daisy’ on an incident that happened with son when he ball was damaged by a neighbors dog. He also discussed how long a book took to develop and where some of his inspirations came from. It really was nice participation from the audience.

To honor Chris’s visit, the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library presented him with an ‘Honorary Membership’ to ‘The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library’ and our Mayor of the Borough of Lodi, Emil Carafa,  presented Chris with a Medal of Honor from the Borough of Lodi.

Raschka Visit XV

Chris receiving an Honorary Membership to the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library

It was a fun and engaging afternoon and we were very honored to have Christopher Raschka be our guest for the Second Annual ‘Teens, Tots & Toys’ holiday celebration. We will see everyone next December for the Third Annual “Teens, Tots & Toys” celebration.

Raschka Visit

Chris with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year from the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library!

Articles on the Event:

http://lodi.bccls.org/friends-of-the-library.html

https://dailyvoice.com/new-jersey/garfield/1342/

https://www.northjersey.com/story/opinion/2017/01/10/letter-lodi-library-has-successful-year/96403338/

 

 

Tinkerstreet, the magical Christmas elf

Day Sixty-One: The Second Annual “Teens, Tots & Toys” with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library: ‘The Legend of Tinker Street, the Magical Elf’ created by member, Justin Watrel December 10, 2016

Tinker Street, the Magical Elf

Tinker Street

 

                                                    The Legend of Tinker Street

(The Legend of Tinker Street was created by Justin Watrel for the holiday event, “Teens, Tots & Toys” for the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library)

 

Teens, Tots & Toys Mascot, the holiday elf, Tinker Street, is a lovable little prankster who lives in the valley of the Catskills Mountains in which the downtown Main Street of Woodstock, NY is named after.

Tinker Street is a gregarious, generous elf who represents the happiness, generosity and thoughtful charity during the holiday season. Tinker Street does not represent one holiday but all holidays celebrated where love, family and get-togetherness are found. Coming out of his home only on December 1st of each year, you can never truly see Tinker Street. You can only feel him when good thoughts pass through you, when a good deed is done and when helping another person is done with great kindness.

Tinker Street II

Tinker Street is an elf of great kindness and tolerance and where you find him is in the understanding that no two holidays are alike so respect for all of them is very important. The true meaning from a visit from Tinker Street is the generosity to charity, the thoughtfulness of a distant family member or friend and looking back to the kindness and remembrance of someone who is gone but not forgotten. When we receive a visit from Tinker Street, we see only the best in ourselves and others around us.

When you see a big smile on someone’s face or happy laughter in a gathering, you know Tinker Street has been there. So to be part of the holiday celebration of “Teens, Tots & Toys”, we wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season and experience the magic in the days ahead.

Tinker Street III

Only Tinker Street can add a certain joy to the holidays and that’s the symbol of “Teens, Tots & Toys”.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library!

Teens, Tots & Toys Picture X

The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library with World Champion Skater, Elaine Zayak, at the first “Teens. Tots & Toys” in 2015.

Raschka Visit V

The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library at the Second Annual “Teens, Tots & Toys” with Best Selling Author Christopher Raschka in 2016.

Join us again at the Lodi Memorial Library next December for ‘Teens, Tots & Toys 2017’

The Tales of Flying Monkeys

Day Fifty-Nine: The Bergen County Zoo “Follows the Yellow Brick Road Back to the Lodi Memorial Library” for ‘Wizard of Oz’ themed event with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library November 10, 2016.

I have had to put my walk on hold again for a month as I was organizing another visit from the Bergen County Zoo to the Lodi Memorial Library. The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library decided to do a series of events with the theme “Follow the Yellow Brick Road Back to You Library”.

Our first event was the visit from Miss New Jersey 2016 Brenna Weick and finished with a huge fundraiser at Friendly’s Restaurant in Woodland Park, New Jersey. We reached out to the Lodi Community and the surrounding towns with engaging, innovative programming that appeals to all ages.

This event featured two innovative programs that were created by the Bergen County Zoo exclusively for the library, “Dorothy’s Barnyard Animals” and “The Tales of Flying Monkey’s”. Both programs included a reading of the book ‘The Wizard of Oz’ tailored to that program.

Flying Monkeys

The Tales of Flying Monkeys was the first theme of the event

In the first program, “Dorothy’s Barnyard Animals”, zoo educator Carol Fusco created a program to show the children and their parents what animals live in a barnyard and what animals ‘Dorothy’ might have taken care of while working on the farm. She went through what animals are available to see at the zoo versus what animals you might  see on a working farm in New Jersey and beyond. She then asked the kids what animals they have seen recently to a very engaging discussion of what is in their own backyards.

Dorothy's Barnyard Animals

Dorothy’s Barnyard Animals was the second theme for the event

Then she brought out a special guest, ‘Butterscotch’ the chicken, who came out to visit us all the way from the Bergen County Zoo. This gentle little bird was so friendly I swear that she smiled at me. The kids just loved her and some of them got to pet her. I can tell you that that chicken did not blink and the kids got such a kick out of it (I could tell the parents did as well with the big smile on some of their faces).

FOLML Spring Event II

The second program, “The Tales of Flying Monkey’s”, Carol and her partner from the zoo read a section of the book after Dorothy had melted the Wicked Witch of the West and how the monkeys were indebted to Dorothy for freeing them from the clutches of the evil witch. They explained who the monkey’s really were to the kids and made them less afraid of them. I thought it was an interesting they took that perspective on how misunderstood the characters were in the movie versus the book.

Flying Monkeys

“Tales of Flying Monkeys”

Then there was a discussion of mammals who fly and there place in the wild. There was an interesting discussion how animals fly and the place in nature that they had. The educators passed around pictures of different animals and explained how they live in the wild. For a program that was geared to kids from the first grade to third grade I really learned a lot. I never knew that much about animals from the perspective of the zoo keepers but it opened my eyes on their place in society. Plus I got a kick out of holding the chicken. It is really a great chicken.

We had about 30 people at the event and a mixture of age groups including a lot of parents and grandparents join us for the afternoon. I even had the parents walk up to me and say that they learned a lot as well. That made me feel good that the Friends could offer such a nice educational program that engaged the kids and got them off their cell phones. It was a younger crowd then I had thought we would attract but it seemed to me that the families all had a good time and were happy that the zoo came to them.

The program was followed by a light reception with all sorts of cookies, fresh fruit, wrap sandwiches and chicken fingers that were donated by Inserra ShopRite of Lodi. We want to thank them and Inserra Supermarkets for their support. Thank you!

For those who have never been to the Bergen County Zoo, it is a real treat. It is located in Paramus, New Jersey in the Van Saun Park off Forrest Avenue. It is a real treat and has a nice selection of animals to visit and more creative programming to experience. A big Thank you to Carol Fusco and her team for creating such a great program for the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library.

Thank you to everyone who participated and we hope you enjoyed the program.

Articles on the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library events:

https://www.northjersey.com/story/opinion/2017/01/10/letter-lodi-library-has-successful-year/96403338/

http://lodi.bccls.org/friends-of-the-library.html

Day Fifty-Six: ‘Celebrating Books’-The 116th Anniversary of the novel, “The Wizard of Oz” with special guest, Miss New Jersey 2016 Brenna Weick with Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library September 29, 2016.

I took time out of my walk in Manhattan to run another event for the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library. The Friends had planned a series of Fall events around the theme “Follow the Yellow Brick Road Back to Your Library”, to encourage residents of Lodi to come back and see the changes at their library and in celebration of the 116th Anniversary of the novel “The Wizard of Oz”. In celebration of the books anniversary, we invited Miss New Jersey 2016 Miss Brenna Weick to join in the celebration.

Miss New Jersey Flyer

Miss Weick is a 22 year old college graduate from Mantua, New Jersey. She earned a BS in Psychology with a minor in Communications from High Point University. She is the recipient of a number of scholastic awards including the High Point University Academic Achievement Award Scholarship and the Alpha Gamma Delta “Strive for Pi” Academic Excellence Award. She was the recipient of both the Miss New Jersey and Miss America Community Service Awards and earned the Bronze medal for participation in the Duke of Edinburgh program through the Miss America Organization.

Miss New Jersey 2016 X

This delightful afternoon started with a reading from the novel “The Wizard of Oz”, with Miss Weick reading to an audience of over 60 children and their parents. She read several passages on the trip to Oz and some of the background stories of the main characters.

The reading was followed by a Q & A on Miss Weick’s role as Miss New Jersey and being an ambassador of the Miss America Pageant. She also engaged the audience with her time at the recent Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City. It was interesting to learn how the pageant worked, the experiences she had meeting all the other contestants and her role at the pageant as the home town favorite.

She also talked about the work she is doing all over the state with her platform “A World of Difference: Navigating the Cybersphere”, where her aim is to teach generations (young and old) how use the Internet safely and with integrity. She has utilized this platform to host seminars for parents and senior citizens in an attempt to bridge the gap that has been created with the growth of technology.

Miss Weick, in keeping with the theme of the event sang “Over the Rainbow” to the audience. Miss Weick had played the role of ‘Dorothy’ in her high school production of the ‘Wizard of Oz’ her senior year. It was a delight to the whole audience and everyone enjoyed it. We also asked if she could sing the song that she sang at the Miss America pageant ‘Someone like You’ from the musical Jekyll & Hyde. Her perfect rendition of the song brought the house down with a loud applause from the audience.

When the Q & A was over, the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library made a special presentation to Miss Weick. Friends member Marie Shrieks made a presentation to Miss Weick from the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library making her an ‘Honorary Member’ of the Friends of the Library and Library Director Karyn Gost presented her with a beautiful bouquet of flowers from the library staff. Councilwoman Patricia Licata from the Lodi Borough Council greeted Miss Weick as well.

Miss New Jersey 2016 IV.JPG

Patricia Licata, Brenna Weick and Justin Watrel at “Celebrating Books: the 116th Anniversary of ‘The Wizard of Oz’

After the program was over, Miss Weick stayed and signed autographed head shots from the pageant and “Wizard of Oz” books that the Friends were selling to raise money. She was engaging to residents and Friends of all ages.

The afternoon was followed by an light reception in Miss Weick’s honor that everyone was invited to that was sponsored by Shoprite of Lodi and we ended the afternoon with a showing in the upstairs screening room of the 1939 version of “The Wizard of Oz” starring Judy Garland.

Miss New Jersey 2016 III

Justin Watrel presenting Brenna Weick an Honorary Membership to the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library

It was a wonderful afternoon to everyone who attended and the Friends got many compliments about the event. Hats off to Miss New Jersey 2016 Miss Brenna Weick who is representing the State of New Jersey with grace and dignity and being a true “Friend of the Library”.

Miss New Jersey 2016 VII

Brenna Weick singing “Over the Rainbow” to the crowd

Think about joining the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library.

I want to credit this video to Marc Nazeh for this video at the Lodi Memorial Library

The video presentation of the wonderful afternoon on YouTube.

 

We asked Miss Weick to sing this song from the ‘Miss America Talent’ portion

 

Check out Articles on the Event and others for the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library:

 

https://www.northjersey.com/story/life/community/2016/10/06/here-she-is-miss-new-jersey-visited-the-lodi-library-on-sept-29/93041492

https://www.northjersey.com/story/life/community/2016/10/06/miss-new-jersey-2016-brenna-weick-was-on-hand-at-the-lodi-memorial-library-on-sept-29/93043200/

https://www.northjersey.com/story/life/community/2016/09/22/miss-new-jersey-to-visit-the-lodi-public-library/93014556/

https://dailyvoice.com/new-jersey/garfield/lifestyle/miss-new-jersey-2016-brenna-weick-will-sing-read-at-lodi-library/681477/

http://lodi.bccls.org/friends-of-the-library.html

http://www.healthandlifemags.com/bergen/February-2017/Gatherings-Lodi-Memorial-Library/

https://ozmapolitan.wordpress.com/2016/09/04/oz-in-the-news-9-4-16/

https://tomp3.pro/Lodi-nj-library

http://bundari.klikini.xyz/wovinur/noaworix.php?fygkuhdg=brenna-weick

https://goodjerseys.co/miss-new-jersey/

https://www.northjersey.com/story/opinion/2017/01/10/letter-lodi-library-has-successful-year/96403338/

Day Forty-Two: National Library Week & A visit by Rafael Diaz of the NY Red Bulls II with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library April 18, 2016

National Library Week at the Lodi Memorial Library on April 18,2016

I took some time out from my walk to organize another celebrity visit to the Lodi Memorial Library for the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library. As part of National Library Week, we extended the event by one day and welcomed to the library NY Red Bulls II goalie Rafael Diaz, a local New Jersey resident who is becoming a much talked about player on the NY Red Bulls MLS.

Rafael Diaz Visit II

Rafael Diaz reading “Oh the Places you will Go”

As with all the events for the library, this one took about four and a half months to organize. One of the younger patrons who had come to ‘Teens, Tots & Toys’ when Elaine Zayak visited the library asked after the event was over would it be possible to bring in a professional soccer player. I said that I would try and the next day I found myself emailing the NY Red Bulls MLS Organization. I was very lucky that I found a person in the PR Department of the Red Bulls who was very nice and really wanted to help me out. I have to say that the event exceeded all my expectations and we had a really good turn out of over 50 kids and an additional 30 adults at the book reading and Q & A after the reading.

The following is the bio of Mr. Diaz that we read at the event:

“Welcome everyone to the Lodi Memorial Library on the final day of National Library Week. The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library and staff of the Lodi Memorial Library welcome with honor a young man who is making New Jersey proud, Mr. Rafael Diaz.

Mr. Diaz was born in the Dominican Republic and spent part of his early childhood locally in Paterson, NJ. Later he moved to Rockaway, NJ with his family and is a graduate of Morris Hills High School. While with the Scarlet Knights of Morris Hills for three seasons he was the starting goalkeeper and served as team captain his senior year.

He earned NSCAA New Jersey Player of the Year and New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year honors his senior year. He was two-time NSCAA High School All-American and two time NSCAA High School All-Region selection, two time first team All-State, All-Area and All-Morris County and a three time All-Conference

As a student at St. John’s University majoring in Sports Management, as a Red-Shirted Freshman, he earned Second team Soccer American All-Freshman Honors, a Big East All-Rookie of the Year and started all 18 games with a posted record of 10-6-2. As a sophomore, he started 15 games and went 9-4-1 and recorded seven shutouts. As a junior was a second team NSCAA All-Northeast Region selection, a first team All-Big East honoree, started all 19 games and posted a record of 10-5-4 with eight shutouts. He was the All-Time shutout leader at St. John’s University.

Raphael Diaz the Goalie for the Red Bulls II
Raphael Diaz the goalie for the Red Bulls II read the book “Oh the places you will go!”

Mr. Diaz at the Q & A at the Lodi Memorial Library in Lodi, NJ

After finishing at St. John’s University, he signed his first contract with the United Soccer League’s Orlando City Soccer Club and made his first team debut with Orlando on May 14, 2014 with a 4-1 win. During the 2015 season, he went through a trial with the Red Bulls Major Soccer League Club and signed with the New York Red Bulls II for the season and made the game day roster for the side in its first ever match on March 28, 2015 and his debut with the team on April 12, 2015 and his debut as a starter for the New York Red Bulls II on April 18, 2015 in a 1-1 draw against the Charleston Battery.”

The event was extremely well received by the library patrons and the community as well. We had a very long question and answer session and it was fun to watch many star-eyed children ask engaging questions to Mr. Diaz. Mr. Diaz was every bit the gentleman talking to all the kids and adults alike about his career, his goals and his own heroes.

The Q & A was followed by a presentation by our President of the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library, Mrs. Judy Schroeder, who presented Mr. Diaz with an Honorary Membership to the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library and our Library Director Siobhan Koch, who presented Mr. Diaz with a special gift set of the books of “Oh, the Places You will Go” and “Oh, the Places you want to Go” by Dr. Seuss.

The highlight of the afternoon was being joined by our Mayor of the Borough of Lodi, Mayor Emil Carafa. Mayor Carafa gave an enlightened talk about reaching your goals through hard work. He then presented Mr. Diaz with a proclamation from the town and a medal from the Borough of Lodi. We could all see that Mr. Diaz was touched.

Raphael Diaz with Lodi NJ Mayor Emil Carafa
Lodi Mayor Emil Cafara with Raphael Diaz giving him a Proclamation from the Borough of Lodi, NJ

Mr. Diaz with his Honorable Mayor Emil Carafa

After the event was over, we had a reception with light refreshments to everyone who joined us that afternoon. Mr. Diaz and staff from the Red Bulls joined us later to tell us what a nice time they had at the library.

The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library want to thank the NY Red Bulls II for letting Mr. Diaz visit us and a big hats off to Rafael Diaz, who showed true sportsmanship and a real role model to all of our patrons.

Thank you to everyone who helped with the event.

Enjoy this video of the event with Rafael Diaz!

 

 

Articles on the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library:

https://www.northjersey.com/story/opinion/2017/01/10/letter-lodi-library-has-successful-year/96403338/

https://dailyvoice.com/new-jersey/garfield/events/photos-goalkeeper-rafael-diaz-visits-lodi-library/656998/

https://www.newyorkredbulls.com/players/rafael-diaz

 

 

The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library

Day Forty: Meeting ‘Lodi Larry comes to the Library’: First Day of Spring Event with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library March 21st, 2016

I took some time out from my walk to run an event for the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library which is located in Lodi, NJ. I started to get involved in the Friends group last September and that has lead to many interesting visits from celebrities and athletes. Our latest guest helped us welcome in the first day of Spring (which ironically came after a snow storm the day before in which the heat melted all the snow before the event). His name was ‘Lodi Larry, the Rabbit’ and his home is the Bergen County Zoo.

The event was in response to our version of ‘Groundhog’s Day’, when we could not find a groundhog anywhere in Bergen County, NJ. Not one zoo or natural center had one. So when I approached a friend of mine who works at the zoo about one and she could not find one, she suggested the rabbit that they use for children’s events. With that in mind and not wanting to get caught in a snow storm for the event, we moved the event to the first day of Spring with the theme “Lodi Larry comes to the Library”.

FOLML Spring Event

Members of the Lodi community on the “First Day of Spring Event”

I was supposed to have only 25 children and their parents but word got out and we ended up with almost 40 children and almost 50 parents and grandparents. This was the first of the three events that I ran for the library since I joined that was a complete sell-out and then some. It was nice to see kids of all ages out to hear the program and participate in the question and answer session.

The only big problem we had was one of the volunteers from the zoo. The program was called “Lodi Larry comes to the Library on the First Day of Spring”. She got up and said, “I don’t know about the rabbit being from Lodi, but this rabbit’s name is Roger, not Larry.” Then she proceeded on with the event. If ever there was a time that someone screwed up, it was then. I was lucky that no one really noticed and the kids and parents had such a good time for the two programs that it was forgotten. I pulled her aside later and explained everything in detail about the program.

FOLM Lodi Larry II

The Bergen County Zoo staff with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library 2016

Outside that little mishap, the programs went off without a hitch. Our first event was a program called ‘Wild & Crafty Animal Tales’, where the kids listened to the story “Make room for the Bunny” and then did a bunny craft. After that the kids got in line to meet the rabbit. That was a big deal for all the small kids. The rabbit seemed very happy with the kids and did not make a fuss. All the kids seemed to enjoy petting the rabbit.

Then our second program “In My Backyard”, took place right after the first program. The theme was that the zoo is a great place to see exotic animals but children can see wild animals every day right in their own backyards. The program induced children to identifying and safely observing New Jersey’s wildlife. Here the kids got to see a real turtle, something that has become very rare in the wilds of New Jersey. I was amazed on how children were so excited on seeing a turtle.

After both programs were over, we had a question and answer time with the staff from the zoo. Some of the questions these kids had were so observant and interesting. So much for the theory that kids today are obsessed with their cellphones. Put a turtle or a rabbit in front of them and they are no different then we were in the 70’s and 80’s.

When the question and answers were over, we had a really nice reception that was catered by our local ShopRite supermarket. Everyone was really impressed with the food. We had a six foot Italian sub that was cut into pieces for us, five pounds of Italian cookies, five pounds of cut fruit, bags of salty snacks and assorted water and juices. I have never seen such a reaction to food before. The site of a colorful buffet of refreshments really brought out the excitement of people. They formed two lines and when I am saying there was not a crumb left of food, there was nothing left. The platters were stripped clean. I was happy that there were no leftovers.

FOLML Spring Event Refreshments

Special Events Chair Justin Watrel of “The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library”

People left and they were all saying that they had a good time. The kids loved their little crafts and clean up was so easy because they brought everything home. Its nice to see a crowd of happy faces leaving the library and hopefully this starts a trend of very successful programming.

I wanted to send a big ‘thank you’ to Mayor Emil Carafa and the entire Lodi Borough Council for their support, Superintendent of School’s Frank Quatrone for all his help getting the word out to the schools, the Lodi Boys & Girls Club, the Lodi Senior Club, Library Director Siobhan Koch and her staff for the filming of the program, picture taking and for helping with the reservations. A big ‘thank you’ to the Lodi Memorial Library’s Library Board and a another big ‘thank you’ to Friends President Judy Schroeder, Treasurer Edith Witte and Board Member Marilyn De Molli for all of their assistance on the event plus all the support from the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library.

Now back to the ‘Walk in Manhattan’.

Enjoy this three part video of the event at the Lodi Memorial Library. It would have been one solid video but one the volunteers made a serious boo-boo during the event:

Articles on The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library:

https://www.northjersey.com/story/opinion/2017/01/10/letter-lodi-library-has-successful-year/96403338/

Day Thirty-Three: The first Annual “Teens, Tots & Toys: the Holiday Festival with special guest, World & U.S. figure skating Champion, Elaine Zayak with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library December 19th, 2015.”

One of the projects that I was working on as the Junior Friends Chair of another Friends group two years ago was the holiday event, “Teens, Tots & Toys: the Holiday Festival” an all day event that was filled with movies, craft making and celebrity visits all to raise funds and collect toys for the Emmanuel Cancer Foundation of Midland Park, NJ. It had all been planned and then got cancelled. It was an omen too as it snowed the entire day that year and all holiday events had to be cancelled.

It was time to put the event into motion. As my holiday activities were in full swing, we had just finished Christmas tree sales selling 240 trees through our Men’s Association, Christmas Decorating judging with the Mayor’s Celebration Committee, visits to help out in the Soup Kitchen, the fire department’s Annual ‘Santa Around Town’ and volunteering for the Sinterklaas parade, ‘Teens, Tots & Toys’ was the last big event on my list of holiday events.

We invited US Champion, World Champion and Olympian Elaine Zayak to join us for a book reading, Q & A and then an autograph session to be followed by two movies and then lastly gingerbread house making. I knew it was going to be a long day. It had taken six weeks to plan.

Even though the crowds were low (I never understand the patrons of this library that don’t appreciate a really great free event), the event went off nicely. Elaine showed up with her son, Jack and could not have been friendlier. She had just come back from teaching at the Hackensack Ice House and was dressed in her US Figure Skating jacket. She was a true professional.

Elaine Zayak

Elaine Zayak in 1994 when she came back at the United States National Champions

I felt embarrassed by the turnout but Elaine was like don’t worry about it. She had been through this before at book signings. She had been at ones where there were five people and some where there were fifty. She told me she wanted to have something where she and Jack could spend the day with each other and she could involved him. The afternoon was perfect for that.

We started the afternoon with a warm welcome to the crowd that was there and wished everyone a Happy Holiday season. Then I went on to talk about the Legend of ‘Tinker Street’, the magical elf, who the event was honoring and then I introduced Elaine.

Tinker Street the Magical Elf

‘Tinker Street, the Elf’

A lot of the audience did not know of the contributions to figure skating that Elaine had done. She had introduced so many triple jumps into her skating program when she was starting out that the famous ‘Zayak Rule’ had been created to limit the amount of jumps that you could have in a program. She also brought a sense of athleticism to the sport by encouraging skaters to not just use a sense of style but a sense power to the sport. This gave it a strong point after the ‘figures’ went away in the judging.

Elaine read along with her son, Jack, from the book the “Skating Shoes’ by Noel Streatfeild. This book was made famous by the movie, “You got Mail” when Meg Ryan mentions the book to a bookstore patron. It was a very uplifting book about two friends and fellow skaters who were starting to compete against each other. The two of them took time to read from the book.

Teens, Tots & Toys Picture IV

Elaine Zayak and her son, Jack

During the Q & A, there were some interesting questions that many of the Friends members had such as her competitions, what it was like to be in the Olympics, many of the famous skaters that she competed with and against, the Tonya/Nancy affair that was taking place at the same time at Nationals in 1994 and what she was doing today. She took a lot of pride in what she was doing with her teaching and encouraging young skaters.

Elaine Zayak with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library
Teens, Tots & Toys

Ms. Zayak with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library

We filmed the entire event and unfortunately the Mayor had been a little late because of a mix up in the time so we were able to refilm this segment of the program. We as the Friends, lead by our President Judy Schroeder, presented Elaine with an honorarium making her a member of the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library, the Library Director Siobhan Koch presented Elaine with her own copy of the book, “The Skating Shoes” and then the Mayor made his presentation.

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Lodi, NJ Mayor Emil Carafa with Ms. Zayak

Lodi Borough Mayor Emil Carafa presented Elaine Zayak with an official medal from the Borough of Lodi, New Jersey and then placed the medal on her and read a proclamation from the Borough of Lodi honoring her many accomplishments. It was very touching to both her and the audience. Another nice thing about it is that the Mayor remembered when she was still skating as a teen and helping raise money for her to compete. Elaine also donated her fee to her two favorite charities, which we thought was very nice of her.

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Mayor Carafa with Ms. Zayak

Everyone then joined us for a reception in honor of her visit. We had a beautiful spread of food donated by Inserra Shoprite of Lodi, New Jersey. The reception included a six foot Italian hoagie, a platter of fresh cut fruit, three trays of assorted cookies, assorted chips and assorted juices, bottled waters and sodas that the patrons could enjoy. Elaine’s son, Jack, really seemed to enjoy himself, first helping his mom with the book reading and then enjoying the good food.

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The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library presenting Ms. Zayak with a membership to ‘The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library’

After Elaine and Jack left for the afternoon, we showed the film ‘Arthur Christmas’, the story about one of Santa’s two sons who helps save Christmas for one little girl whose gift was left behind in the North Pole. It is a very uplifting movie about the true meaning of the holiday and the spirit of giving.

After the movie, about fifteen families with about thirty children participated in the first annual making of Gingerbread houses, in which everyone looked like they had a lot of fun. You should have seen some of the creations that came out of that afternoon, made of icing and candies.

Although we did not have the crowd that we thought we would, everyone who came had a very nice time with the event. There is still a lot we have to learn about running these events, the patrons who came had a nice time meeting Elaine Zayak and her son, watching the film and creating the gingerbread houses.

This is what I read from the Legend of Tinker Street, the Magical Elf:

‘The Legend of Tinker Street’

Teens, Tots & Toys Mascot, the holiday elf, Tinker Street, is a lovable little prankster, who lives in the valley of the Catskills Mountains in which the downtown Main Street of Woodstock, NY is named after.

Tinker Street is a gregarious, generous elf who represents the happiness, generosity and thoughtful charity during the holiday season. Tinker Street does not represent one holiday but all holidays celebrated where love, family and get-togetherness are found.

Coming out of his home only on December 1st of each year, you can never truly see Tinker Street. You can only feel him when good thoughts pass through you, when a good deed is done and when helping another person is done with great kindness.

Tinker Street is an elf of great kindness and tolerance and where you find him is in the understanding that no two holidays are alike so respect for them is very important. The true meaning from a visit from Tinker Street is the generosity to charity, the thoughtfulness of a distant family member or friend and looking back to the kindness and remembrance of someone who is gone but not forgotten.

When we receive a visit from Tinker Street, we see only the best in ourselves and others around us. When you see a big smile on someone’s face or happy laughter in a gathering, you know Tinker Street has been there.

So to be part of the very first celebration of “Teens, Tots & Toys”, we wish you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season and experience the magic in the days ahead.’

Tinker Street II

This event also raised the awareness of the Emmanuel Cancer Foundation of Midland Park, New Jersey and the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library donated the next week around fifty toys and forty children’s books from the library that were donated to the charity, which helps families with children with cancer. It was a big plus to the Foundation of our donation and it helped so many children in a tough holiday season.

For all you patrons who attended the event or donated toys to help, thank you all from the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library for making such a big difference in a strangers life. You all show the true meaning of the holidays by giving of yourselves and commitment to charity.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Please enjoy this two part video of Elaine Zayak’s  visit to the Lodi Memorial Library and her ‘key to the city’ presentation by the Mayor of Lodi, Emil Cafara!

Elaine Zayak’s Reading at the Lodi Memorial Library’s “First Annual Teens, Tots & Toys”

 

Elaine Zayak being presented Honorariums from The Lodi Memorial Library and the Mayor of Lodi, NJ presenting her the medal from the Borough of Lodi, NJ.

Elaine Zayak receiving a “Key to the City” medal to Lodi, NJ

Elaine Zayak at the U.S. Nationals

Elaine Zayak in the 1994 National Championships

 

Articles on the event for the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library:

Our full page coverage in The Community News December 2015

Teens, Tots & Toys Elaine Zayak

http://lodi.bccls.org/friends-of-the-library.html

https://dailyvoice.com/new-jersey/garfield/neighbors/lodi-library-fundraiser-olympic-sized-success/612651/

https://dailyvoice.com/new-jersey/garfield/events/olympic-skater-visits-lodi-library-as-part-of-special-toy-drive-event/611291/

Click to access feb16.pdf

https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/499947695/