Thousands of Visitors Treasure Staten Island
Contact: John Harlan Warren, 718-354-4608
On Sunday, April 10, 3,600 visitors arrived at Gateway National Recreation Area's Fort Wadsworth to attend the third annual "Treasure Your Island Community Awareness Day." The event brought together 28 Staten Island community and cultural organizations. Attendees filled all three of the fort's parking lots.
"Treasure Your Island provides one-stop shopping for Staten Island parents and kids, helping families find organizations and things to do together," said Park Ranger Steve Salgo, who facilitated the event. "Everyone worked well together: maintenance, interpreters, park volunteers and community organizations." Salgo said measured the success of the day from the smiles of everyone involved.
Visitors enjoyed music and dance from several performers and five different public schools on Staten Island, including P.S. 3, 36, 65, 59 and Susan Wagner High School. Historic reenactors traced the island's founding by Europeans in 1661 through its military history with the Army Ground Forces Association (AGFA) to the present day. Staten Island Borough Historian Thomas Matteo provided scholarly information on the island's cultural heritage. Families had a chance to tour historic Battery Weed.
The Veteran Corps of Artillery, Fife and Drum started the event at 12:20 by playing the national anthem just before Superintendent Linda Canzanelli welcomed visitors to the afternoon's festivities. Two stage areas were filled with performances. Red Storm, a Native American dance and drum troupe, invited participants to learn dances, which NYC's 24-hour news channel videotaped. Popular folk music group Stout also entertained visitors along with music by Babaloo and Sounds Uncertain.
Staten Island-based organizations brought attractions for the public that included U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team 9-11-06, based at Fort Wadsworth. MSSTs are anti-terrorism teams with specialized training to conduct advanced interdiction and protect local maritime assets. U.S. Park Police patrolled on horseback bringing cheers from children. Scooter, the mascot for the Staten Island Yankees, was a popular attraction and AGFA brought a 1943 first aid jeep.
"We're so excited that such a variety of community groups came out to Gateway to celebrate Staten Island's 350th birthday with us," said Canzanelli. She hopes that the event can return to Gateway's Staten Island Unit next year.
Did You Know?
The first transatlantic flight departed from the Rockaway Naval Air Station on Jamaica Bay in 1919. Today, it is the site of Gateway NRA's Jacob Riis Park.