By Ed Wendell
This past weekend, the kids of Woodhaven came out to celebrate the 100th birthday of Mary Whalen Playground, at 79th Street and Park Lane South. Children brought an amazing number of beautiful birthday cards for the playground and at 12 noon, 100 years to the moment that it opened, everyone joined together for a chorus of Happy Birthday.
Special thanks to Portia Dyrenforth, Administrator of Forest Park, and her amazing team who helped make this a spectacular party. And a big thank you to the Forest Park Golf Course, for loaning us a golf cart for the kids to take pictures on, and the Forest Park Carousel, for donating a birthday party package as the main raffle prize.
And a special word of thanks to Woodhaven’s Jennifer Lambert, our local artist who did an amazing job putting together this party and making sure all the local schools knew all about it. It was truly a special day in Woodhaven.
It was truly a significant day in Woodhaven history for this marked the anniversary of when the Forest park we all know and love began to take shape. Originally, almost all of what we know of Forest Park used to be the golf course.
But residents complained and the Parks Department and the City of New York redesigned the course to give lots of land back to the people of Woodhaven for recreation. Within a year of the playground opening, two other local icons would open for business: The Forest Park Carousel and the Seuffert Bandshell.
And so, plans are already underway to have a big party next year celebrating the 100th Birthday for these two places which are hard to imagine growing up in Woodhaven without.
How many rides have residents of Woodhaven taken on the Carousel? How many people have attended wonderful concerts over the last century at the bandshell? We look forward to paying tribute to both in 2024.
And speaking of the bandshell, here is the schedule of shows and concerts coming to you this summer courtesy of The Forest Park Trust and Maspeth Federal Savings:
- Thursday June 29th, 7:30 p.m. Queens Symphony Orchestra. Celebrate Queens Symphony Orchestra’s 70th Anniversary with a concert of blockbuster, patriotic tunes paying tribute to the birth of our great nation.
- Thursday July 6th, 7:30 p.m. Billy Joel Tribute. Captain Jack, the ultimate Billy Joel Tribute Band, returns to Forest Park. The last time they were here it was a great show that was unfortunately interrupted by a downpour. This year, we’re looking forward to seeing the entire show.
- Thursday July 13th, 7:30 p.m. Rent. Plaza Theatrical Productions presents “Rent,” winner of the Tony Award for Best musical. What a wonderful opportunity to see live theater right here in Forest Park.
- Thursday July 20th, 7:30 p.m. Elvis Presley Tribute. Jesse Garron’s tribute to Elvis Presley has been called “The Closest Thing to the King.” Come to the bandshell as he takes the audience on a musical journey covering hits through Elvis’ long and outstanding musical career.
- Thursday July 27th, 7:30 p.m. Earth, Wind & Fire Tribute. Shining Star brings the legendary sounds of one of the best-selling bands of all time to Forest Park.
- Thursday August 3rd, 7:30 p.m. Tina Turner Tribute. This is going to be a special night as we are treated to a high-energy tribute to the legendary Tina Turner, who recently passed away.
- Thursday August 10th, 7:30 p.m. Paul McCartney Tribute. We’re in for a treat as we’re presented with a selection of Sir Paul’s solo work, his work with Wings and his work with a little band called The Beatles.
- Thursday August 17th, 7:00 p.m. Queensboro Dance Festival. Celebrate the Queensboro Dance Festival’s 10th Anniversary showcasing an incredible diverse lineup of Queens-based dance companies. Please note the start time for this show is a bit earlier than the others, starting at 7 p.m.
- Friday, August 18th, 7:30 p.m. Movies Under The Stars – School of Rock. Jack Black stars as a substitute teacher who turns his private school pupils into a classic-rock band in this entertaining comedy.
It’s going to be a great 2023 at the Forest Park Bandshell and a terrific year of centennial celebrations for Forest Park in 2024!