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LIC arts company announces Mother’s Day block party with drag story time and solar cooked hot dogs

Local residents attended the inaugural Chocolate Factory Theater’s Block Party and Open House in Long Island City last year. Photo courtesy of Chocolate Factory Theater

May 2, 2024 By Iryna Shkurhan

The Chocolate Factory Theater, an experimental arts company in Long Island City, announced a jam-packed day of community engagement for its second annual Mother’s Day Block Party and Open House. 

The family-friendly event is free to attend and was organized with the goal of engaging with the community and informing Chocolate Factory Theater’s neighbors what their work is all about. 

On May 12, 24th Street between 38th and 39th Avenue will be closed to traffic for the pedestrian-friendly outing. 

Activities at the four-hour event will range from cookie decorating with the health-conscious Little Chef Little Cafe, to chalk mural making with Queens Collaborative, a community organization that hosts Craft Club and a second-hand art supply shop, as part of its effort to make creative practices accessible to all. Magician Nathan Thompson will also perform a show of tricks. 

For grub, there will be hot dogs and veggie dogs cooked by performer and solar cooking enthusiast Steven Wendt. He uses the sun’s rays, giant Fresnel lenses and a rotating spit to cook real hot dogs. Popcorn and drinks will also be available. 

“The Chocolate Factory Theater is a community space with artists at its center. We are incredibly excited to get to know our neighbors and make new friends and supporters by opening our doors wide. The pandemic has made it challenging, but we are all finding our way,” Chocolate Factory Theater Co-Founder and Executive Director Sheila Lewandowski said. “We invite everyone to celebrate with us!”

Children can also attend a Drag Queen Story Hour, which includes readings in English and Spanish. Drag artists present these events at local libraries and community spaces across the city to celebrate gender diversity and inspire children to feel comfortable expressing themselves. 

Starting at 3 p.m., DJ LIIIAM will host a special request dance party, with songs suggested by attendees throughout the event. Although his set will only last 30 minutes, he will invite everyone to participate and dance it out together. 

There will also be a screening of “A Cake For Me” by Yuby Hernandez, a Dominican-American filmmaker who follows the artistic paths of a director and her mother through the lens of cake. Hernandez has also produced the Sundance-featured documentary Aftershock, which examines the country’s high rates of maternal mortality. 

To further support the community, the organizers are collecting donations on behalf of the Astoria Food Pantry. Suggestions include shelf-stable food such as cereal, oatmeal, pasta, canned goods, diapers and menstrual pads.

Supporters of the event include M&T Charitable Foundation, Shine Electronics, Rise and Light Power, NYC Council Member Julie Won and the DOT.

Photo courtesy of Chocolate Factory Theater

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