RIRA: 2017 Cherry Blossom Festival a Success

May 15, 2017

The 2017 Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossom Festival was a tremendous success!


Attendance at Four Freedoms Park exceeded 5,000 people, who came to watch performances by world-class performance groups, as well as local community groups. Many of these outstanding performers have volunteered to perform since our first festival in 2011. We again presented traditional Japanese Folk Dancing Instruction sponsored by Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance; members of the community audience were invited to join the dancers. Plus, there was a special dance performance by the delightful Young Roosevelt Island Japanese Association Dancers.


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


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


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


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


A special thanks to our many hardworking volunteers: Takashi Ikegawa, our Japanese-speaking performance group manager; Michael Shinozaki, our stage manager; and Jim Luce, our MC.


Lizette DeJesus of Four Freedoms Park supplemented her staff by driving people .Madeline Grimes of Four Freedoms Park helped with our Facebook page.Dave and Jim Tang drove the RIDA bus and other vehicles.


Sayuri Lindholm, our Japanese Association liaison, spearheaded the Japanese Cultural Fair for the second year and organized the Japanese community to produce the activities.


Julia Palermo, our lead for the performers’ reception, and her seconds, Sharon Williams and Laura Hussey, produced a sumptuous spread to thank our volunteer performers.


Mary Coleman and Wendy Hersh spearheaded the senior and disabled picnic.


Adib Mansour designed the beautiful posters, programs and banner. John Dougherty designed our webpage. Flo Kerr made our signature volunteer identifying obis.


Our hard-working resident and other volunteers, ranging from high school students, Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) and Cornell-Tech volunteers to senior citizens: Bintu Cisse, Mathew Luce, Renate Narr, Sandy Newell, Sherry Ryan, Mark Shinozaki, Ruth Titus.


A big shout-out to Jane Swanson and the Cornell-Tech volunteers for printing and posting last-minute signage on the morning of the event.


And everyone else I missed. I am so grateful for your service, whether you served one hour or all day long.

And finally, my gratitude to Lynne Strong Shinozaki, who stepped up to help with everything.

This year, the generous donations to this event from the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, our site partners, housing management companies and merchants covered our needs and expenses. A special shout-out of thanks to Charlie Abdul and his wife Isa at Roosevelt Landings, for their last-minute efforts regarding the stage. Thank you again to everyone.


Mother’s Day Celebration 


Adib Mansour and Anne Heskel of RIRA’s Child, Youth & Education Committee write: 


RIRA, the Carter Burden Network, and RIDA are honored to invite our Island’s seniors and disabled community to our Mother’s Day celebration, on Saturday May 13, at 11:00 a.m. at the Senior Center. 


As part of RIRA’s Child, Youth & Education Committee’s leadership programs, we work to connect our Island’s youth with their community by creating connections with their peers, the elderly, and the disabled community. Our mission is to offer them positive engagements for a flourishing future.


As a strong advocate of women and mothers, Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright will speak to our youth and will honor four mothers and grandmothers from our community with a special recognition. RIOC President Susan Rosenthal will also honor these mothers and grandmothers with a special presentation.


The event will feature two performances from Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance’s Pippin, as well as spoken-word poems and handcrafted cards by the Girl Scouts. The Roosevelt Island Parents’ Network will present handmade picture frames to the attendees, students from the Island Musicute piano program will present breath-taking piano recitals, and middle- and high-school students will present an original Hip Hop dance as well as a beautiful Mother’s Day poem. Brunch will be served and will culminate in hand massages by Irene (Purple Tiger) Clark.


Should you have any questions or need additional information, do not hesitate to call or email Adib Mansour (646) 283-4973; riradib@earthlink.net. (Due to limited seat availability, we will honor first come first served.)


Blood Drive


In partnership this year with the Roosevelt Island Seniors Association (RISA), RIRA will be holding the annual Roosevelt Island blood drive every Saturday at the Farmer’s Market until Roosevelt Island Day in June. Now in its 16th consecutive year, RIRA and RISA volunteers will be manning a sign-up table at the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays to sign up any and all donors who wish to participate. The Blood Drive will culminate with the pledged donations to occur during the annual Roosevelt Island Day festivities. If you are able, be on the lookout for our table, and please sign up to donate. You can save a life.


RIOC Board Referendum


RIRA President Jeff Escobar writes that nominees from the April RIOC Board vote in April have been submitted to the governor: 


Pursuant to the May 3 RIRA Common Council Resolution, which passed 14 in favor, 3 against, and 3 in abstention, the following letter was transmitted on May 5 to the Governor’s chambers, as well as to all of our elected representatives, with respect to the community-wide referendum held by RIRA’s Government Relations Committee on April 17-18:


Dear Governor Cuomo,

On April 17 & 18, 2017, the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) conducted a referendum to determine how the community would like the expired seats on the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. (RIOC) board filled. We understand that vetting by the State is an important part of the process and we hope that the State will find the following community residents worthy of the task:

Lydia Tang

Brian Bower

Mark Block

Michael Shinozaki

Eduardo Jany

Howard Polivy

David Kraut

There are seven expired seats on the board. We hope you will honor the community’s wishes and appoint all seven Island residents to those expired seats. 

We sincerely thank you for considering the voice of the community regarding this important matter.


​​Lydia Tang

Cherry Blossom Festival Chair, Roosevelt Island Residents Association


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