Roosevelt Island Day shrunk after 2019, partly because of excessive COVID-19 concerns, but what happens in 2023? President/CEO Shelton J. Haynes’s organizers can regain some lost community support, returning some enthusiasm for 2023. But the signs so far are not good. A late announcement and a lackadaisical poster lacking all originality won’t stoke enthusiasm.
by David Stone
It might not strike you right away, but the poster and the advisory in which it was embedded lack any theme. For example, “Celebrate the Community!” or “Join Us in Celebration!” These things matter in molding community spirit and power.
And it’s short on activities, very short. And everything is on the cheap.
For reference, this is Roosevelt Island Day in 2019.
…when a petting zoo was the most popular feature.
In other years, there were live band concerts and miniature trains carrying happy kids along the West Promenade.
The Tradition: A Reflection
Roosevelt Island Day: A Celebration of History, Unity, and Culture
A vibrant annual event that brings together the local community to celebrate the rich history, culture, and unique spirit of Roosevelt Island… A narrow slice of schist covered with soil in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, this 2-mile-long island has a fascinating past that shaped its present-day charm. So, let’s take a journey through time and explore the origins, significance and festivities.
The Birth of a Tradition
The story of Roosevelt Island Day began in 1995 when the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) created an event that would unite the people living in this unique community while also showcasing its distinctive character. This initial gathering laid the groundwork for what would become a much-anticipated yearly celebration, attracting both residents and visitors alike.
A Storied Past
To understand the importance of this day, delve into the island’s history. Originally known as Minnehanonck by the Native Americans, the island underwent several name changes, including Blackwell’s Island and Welfare Island, before finally being named Roosevelt Island in 1973 in honor of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Throughout its history, Roosevelt Island served various purposes, from housing hospitals and prisons in the 1800s to becoming a model for urban planning in the 1960s. Each era has left its mark on the island, creating a tapestry of historical and cultural significance.
A Day of Remembrance and Revelry
It’s is a lively event that blends the past and the present, offering an array of activities and experiences for all ages. Guided tours, historical exhibits and performances by local artists have provide a glimpse into the island’s storied past, while family-friendly activities such as face-painting, games, and petting zoos add a touch of whimsy and fun.
In addition to the festivities, Roosevelt Island Day also promotes environmental awareness through tree plantings, recycling initiatives and other eco-friendly activities. This aspect of the celebration serves as a reminder to cherish and protect the environment in which we live.
At its core, Roosevelt Island Day is about coming together as a community to honor the island’s history, embrace its cultural diversity, and enjoy a day of unity and entertainment. It’s a testament to the enduring spirit of Roosevelt Island and its inhabitants, who continue to shape the island’s legacy for future generations.
Let’s hope there’s more to the event in 2023 than what’s hinted at so far.