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LIC Springs! street festival returns to Vernon Boulevard Saturday

Vernon Avenue will be closed to traffic for the return of LIC Springs! on Saturday afternoon. The event is free and open to the public. Photo courtesy of Long Island City Partnership

May 17, 2024 By Bill Parry

Vernon Boulevard will transform into a vibrant playground for children and families with the return of LIC Springs! tomorrow, May 18.

The free community street fair, hosted by the Long Island City Partnership (LICP), has previously attracted crowds of up to 10,000. Last year’s 10th-anniversary celebration, which honors the neighborhood’s growth and local businesses, was unfortunately called early due to inclement weather.

Photo courtesy of Long Island City Partnership

Branded as “10, Again,” this year’s event promises to be a celebration of community resilience and growth, according to LICP President Laura Rothrock. “There’s no shortage of excitement at this year’s event,” Rothrock said. “This year, we’ve seen just as many businesses sign up as we did for our 10th anniversary last year, so we’re thrilled to celebrate ’10, Again.’ We emphasize to businesses the importance of offering interactive experiences to participate, and they’ve really delivered.”

Photo courtesy of Long Island City Partnership

Vehicular traffic will be closed off from 46th Avenue south to 50th Avenue from noon until 5 p.m. Street fair attendees can enjoy activities, art, food, fitness and live music performances.

Photo courtesy of Long Island City Partnership

The annual event showcases many of the businesses that make the neighborhood special, as well as newcomers who will soon be part of the LIC Business Improvement District expansion.

Photo courtesy of Long Island City Partnership

“While last year’s 10th-anniversary celebration didn’t unfold as planned, we’re thrilled to be back on Vernon Boulevard with just as many diverse businesses representing all aspects of our evolving neighborhood,” said LIC BID Chair David Brause. “Though the 11th year may not traditionally be seen as remarkable, it holds particular significance for us as we stand on the precipice of our long-awaited BID expansion, promising enhanced services to a larger area of our community. We’re excited to introduce attendees to all that LIC has to offer, ensuring ongoing support for our small businesses.”

Photo courtesy of Long Island City Partnership

Photo courtesy of Long Island City Partnership

The newcomers to the neighborhood will use the event to introduce themselves to the community, such as Theatre East, which is new to the space at Court Square Theater, taking over the former Astoria Performing Arts Center.

“Since we’re a little off the beaten path, LIC Springs! is a great opportunity for us to introduce our programming to members of the community who may not be familiar with us,” Theatre East Managing Director Mike McNulty said. “We offer a diverse range of events, including open mics to plays and we also provide an affordable space for other theatre companies to host performances. We’re also hopeful that participating in LIC Springs! will help us attract new patrons who share our commitment to maintaining the vibrancy of LIC’s cultural community.”

Aloft Long Island City-Manhattan View general manager JP Destreza said community involvement is at the heart of the participating businesses.

“At Aloft Hotel, community is not just a part of our identity; it’s our foundation for success. Through engaging events such as happy hours and live music or karaoke, we foster a vibrant atmosphere that welcomes both travelers and locals alike,” Destreza explained. “We’re excited to showcase our hotel as a hub for exploration and relaxation in the heart of Long Island City.”

Bout Boxing owner Nell Kucich will hold a hardest punch contest for kids and adults as an opportunity to engage with locals and brainstorm ideas for programs and marketing strategies that would resonate with potential members.

“My team and I are excited to bring the energy of Bout Boxing to LIC Springs!” Kucich said. “It’s not just about showcasing our hardest punch contest or interactive experiences; it’s about connecting with our community in a meaningful way.”

Jessica Weaver, owner of Sit Still Kids Salon Queens and a neighborhood mother, said she is thrilled to take part in this year’s festival.

“Our goal is to create a fun and welcoming environment for kids, and this event is the perfect opportunity to connect with families in the community,” she said. “We look forward to showcasing our unique hair salon experience and offering some exciting activities for the little ones. It’s all about celebrating the vibrant spirit of LIC and making lasting memories together.”

Urban Upbound, an organization dedicated to community support, will again be on hand to introduce the free services it offers, including financial counseling, tax preparation, benefits enrollment, mental health counseling, entrepreneurship programs and job training.

“Our team is looking forward to a fun and informative day with several activities and games planned,” Urban Upbound CEO and Co-Founder Bishop Mitchell Taylor said. “We look forward to connecting with locals and visitors from other neighborhoods on this special day. There will be something for everybody. Stop by and let us give you a hand up.”

LIC is also home to the fastest-growing Asian-American communities across the five boroughs. Yumpling, a popular eatery known for its Taiwanese street food, is one of the many participating businesses.

“As a business on Vernon, we love how LIC Springs! Brings our street to life,” Yumpling owner Howie Jeon said. “There’s always a wonderful influx of people attending, especially from the waterfront community, and we want to give them every reason to explore LIC’s main thoroughfares. We’re also proud to represent LIC’s many Asian businesses.”

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