The Woodhaven Beat: Warmer Days Ahead in Forest Park

By Ed Wendell

With this week’s wintry mix, you can be forgiven if Spring and Summer seem miles away, but it’s never too soon to start thinking about good times and warmer weather. And once you start thinking about good weather, your thoughts naturally turn to everyone’s warm weather friend, Forest Park.

The Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society is teaming up with The Forest Park Trust and Councilwoman Joann Ariola to celebrate a pair of historic centennials on Saturday, June 15th as both the Seuffert Bandshell and the Forest Park Carousel turn 100 this year. (The rain date for this celebration is Saturday, June 22nd).

First we’ll celebrate the Carousel by renaming the corner of Woodhaven Boulevard and Forest Park Drive “Forest Park Carousel Way.” And then The Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society is celebrating the Carousel’s centennial in a big way by sponsoring free rides on this beautiful New York City Landmark from 12 noon to 5 p.m.

At the same time, there will be a daylong celebration of the bandshell’s centennial including Art, Music and more! We will have a DJ on stage all afternoon, playing music from local artists and we’ll also have a few performances and also a poetry hour.

And then, to help celebrate the anniversary and Flag Day, Councilwoman Joann Ariola is sponsoring a patriotic concert by the Queens Symphony Orchestra at 5 p.m.

The Forest Park Bandshell has an interesting history. Back in 1923, the wooden bandstand in Forest Park was less than 10 years old but was already showing signs of decline and was not large enough to hold all the musicians from any decent-sized band.

he George Seuffert, Sr. Bandshell in Forest Park on the day that it opened nearly 100 years ago, on June 15th, 1924. The Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society, The Forest Park Trust and Councilwoman Joann Ariola are joining forces to throw a big centennial celebration for both the bandshell and the carousel on June 15th, 2024, exactly 100 years to the day the bandshell was opened.

Mr. Harry Tourte of the Homestead Civic Association of Woodhaven was leading the effort to bring more live music to Forest Park. NYC Mayor John Hylan challenged Woodhaven, and Tourte himself, to prove that it would support a brand new, modern bandstand.

When an estimated 10,000 people turned up in Forest Park for a concert the Mayor was attending, the case was successfully made that a new bandstand was needed and plans were underway. When it opened on June 15th, 1924, the Forest Park Bandstand was said to be one of the finest in the United States, showcasing the latest achievements in acoustical science.

Sadly, Mr. Tourte didn’t live long enough to see the finished product he’d fought so hard for. He passed away a few months before it opened and the bandstand was dedicated in his memory. Today, there isn’t a sign or a marker noting Mr. Tourte’s contribution to our community but we are happy to report that his family will be in attendance for the centennial.

And during the entire day, The Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society is sponsoring “The Woodhaven Art Market,” an art show/sale featuring a group of talented local artists.

Mahfuza Shammy Rahman and Jennifer Lambert, two founding members of the Woodhaven Art Circle, are lending their talents to organize this exciting artistic endeavor.

“During the pandemic art really was an outlet for me and helped me process everything that was happening,” Rahman (who goes professionally by the name MSR) says. “We are past that, but there are still many things happening in the world that are incomprehensible, and again I turn to art to give and receive hope, to understand myself and to reach out to my communities.”

Mahfuza Shammy Rahman and Jennifer Lambert, two founding members of the Woodhaven Art Circle, will be organizing “The Woodhaven Art Market,” an Art Show / Sale on June 15th, 2024, during the dual centennial celebrations of the Forest Park Bandshell and the Forest Park Carousel.

Lambert also sees this as a great opportunity to reach out and meet local artists. “As a resident raising a family in Queens, I’m overjoyed to help provide this great opportunity for local artists to have their work seen in such a wonderful, beautiful and historic setting!”

The deadline for artists to apply for this event is April 15th, 2024. We are seeking painters, photographers, sculptors, jewelry makers, artisans, and printmakers. We are also looking for local musicians (recorded music from local artists will be played from the stage throughout the day, not performed live). Artists will keep 100% of the proceeds from their sales.

If you’re interested in applying, contact us at [email protected] and we’ll send you the entry form.

It may be chilly and frosty outside but it’s never too soon to turn our thoughts to warmer days in Forest Park. And this double centennial celebration is just around the corner!

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