Enjoy some lazy summer fun in Stapleton this weekend with "Weekend Walks" and its arts component "Van Duzer Days." Staten Island's own "Weekend Walks" are scheduled for July 14 and 21, or the following two consecutive Saturdays in Staten Island's Stapleton area.
Joe Tacopino reports for The Staten Island Advance that the "Weekend Walks" festival will bring together the diversity of the Van Duzer neighborhood with fun artistic, creative, and musical events like "Skatedown," painting, children's activities, and musical performances.
"Stapleton is a wonderful and culturally diverse community," said Tariq Zaid, owner of Richmond Hood Co., a boutique skateboard and clothing store that will host the third-annual Skatedown in Stapletown at Van Duzer Days in July. "It's a perfect representation of what 'Slum Beautiful' is: Music, art and activism all live in Stapleton," he added in The Advance.
"It's our home, a lot of us were born and raised here," said Stapleton resident Gena Mimozo, who spearheads the planning committee for Van Duzer Days, an annual street festival held there this weekend. "This is ours. You can't come in and plow through our neighborhood, because the neighborhood will turn on you."
Van Duzer Days works in conjunction with the New York City Department of Transportation's Weekend Walks to shut down street traffic and create recreational areas and pedestrian walkways on summer weekends throughout the five boroughs. Of the 20 Weekend Walks, Van Duzer Days is the only event that will take place on Staten Island, adds The Advance.
Mimozo and others are cautious but optimistic that the impending development will bring positive progress to an area hard hit economocially and associated with crow and a low-income persona within the media.
Remembering Stapelton's history as it rebuilds its future
Stapleton has a rich history including a vibrant brewing industry, and a short-lived NFL franchise in the 1920s. It was home to storied American families such as the Vanderbilts. The Stapleton Houses, opened in 1961, gave birth to the hip-hip group Wu-Tang Clan, who documented its disenfranchised under class with songs such as "Impossible" off their classic 1997 album, added The Advance.
"And there has been resistance to change in the past. As described in the book "Images of America: Stapleton," David Goldfarb's historical account of the area, the Mud Lane Society was formed in the 1970s to promote conservation of St. Paul's Avenue. The group was involved in getting residents to acquire old homes on the Avenue and restore them before they were destroyed and converted into townhouses," according to reporter Joe Tacopino. "After much wrangling, the location was successfully cited as the Stapleton Heights Historic District in 2004."
"The development in Stapleton has slowly begun to have an impact," said Melanie Cohn, Executive Director at the Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island to The Advance. "I think we'll see even more impact over the next several months. I'm excited to see where it leads."
For more information about "Van Duzer Days" and a calendar of events visit www.VanDuzerDays.com. If you are an artist interested in live painting email firstname.lastname@example.org. Now let the summer fun begin!