Take me back!
It was a trip down memory lane for former and current Sunset Park residents on Thursday, December 11, for Real Stories of Sunset Park. The event, hosted by executive director of Sunset Park Restoration Tony Giordano, was held at the Sunset Park Library and served as a forum for attendees to tell stories of the neighborhood as well as learn about its history.
“To me, it’s like putting money in the bank,” said Giordano, when asked about the significance of the event. “It’s preserving our culture and it’s going to pay dividends not just now but in the future too. People can look back and say we’re part of that tapestry that keeps going.”
Throughout the evening, participants were given the microphone to recount their mostly fond memories of growing up in Sunset, such as playing street games and how married couples met.
Residents of the neighborhood, old and new alike, also discussed how much they adore it. “It’s an amazing neighborhood,” said 40-year resident Rob Aguilar. “We thought about moving. A lot of our friends are moving out to the suburbs. And we talked about our experiences growing up in this neighborhood and we said it made us who we are today and appreciate different cultures and people from all over the world. It’s something very unique. We decided we were going to raise our family here also so that they can also be immersed in this culture with different background.”
Even newcomers have embraced Sunset. “I just moved to Sunset Park about five years ago from Park Slope. I was priced out like many others and I love the neighborhood,” said Naila Rosario, who works at the library. “I’ve been getting involved and became president of the Community Education Council [District 15] which represents Sunset Park. It’s a pleasure to be here to listen to stories and to learn more about my neighbors.”
Giordano also showed old photos of significant locations of the neighborhood, such as Saint Michael’s Church, the historic boulder and Greenwood Cemetery. He also passed around enlarged replica postcards of Sunset Park.
Raffles were also held, and prizes included Sunset Park mugs and historic photos of the neighborhood. Everyone in attendance received a Sunset Park tote bag.
Although attendance wasn’t as big as he’d hope, Giordano plans to hold another installment of the event in the near future. “The turnout is a little meager for me, but we’ll post in six weeks and see if anyone wants to do it again,” he said.
Nonetheless, Giordano is proud of the increased interest people have shown in the community. “I see a big change happening and it’s because people like yourself that are getting involved and coming out,” he told the attendees.