Gowanus goes Gatsby-esque for Friends of Douglass Greene Park benefit

October 8, 2013 Denise Romano
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The Gowanus Ballroom was turned into a flapper fete on Saturday, October 5 for the Gowanus Gatsby, a benefit for the Friends of Douglass Greene Park.

The group honored board member Charlene Nimmons; President Sue Wolfe; Councilmember Stephen Levin; Assemblymember Joan Millman; Lance Pinn of Brooklyn Boulders; John Kole, Jared Lewis and Phil Morgan of Building on Bond; Michelle Sauer and Jose Portes of Homage Brooklyn; Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio for their efforts in restoring the block-long park, adjacent to the Gowanus Canal.

“We are fundraising for programming in the park. Lots of people in the neighborhood know it exists and we keep doing events because we want people to enjoy it,” explained Wolfe. “We need more programming in the park.”

The loft warehouse art space, located right on the canal, was filled with the sounds of the Michael Arenella Quintet as he played jazz tunes. Crooner Riva Nyri Precil sang the songs of the 20s as Brooklyn Builders and Homage Brooklyn had climbing and skateboarding demo areas on the ground floor.  Francis Stallings gave a breath-taking aerial silk performance, to songs from the 2013 “The Great Gatsby” movie soundtrack.

“Not every park in New York City is fortunate enough to have such a committed group of citizens and neighbors who go to bat for it. So many parks are not being cared for,” Levin said. “This park is so fortunate due to forward-thinking commitment.

“A couple of years ago, the city tried to shut down the pool,” he went on, referring to the Douglass/DeGraw public swimming pool that is on the park’s premises. “Of all the pools, this one spearheaded the effort to get the funds restored. Thank you for the advancement of the jewel of our neighborhood.”

Nimmons said that she “worked extremely hard so that children and families in our community have somewhere special to go.

“We are embracing you for embracing us,” she said.

Sauer and Portes helped open the skate park.

“It’s been exciting to see all the progress and even this happen,” Sauer said, referring to the Gatsby gala. “All the kids in the area are using it and we appreciate it.”

Pinn helps with programming in the park.

“It’s been wonderful. A hundred to 200 kids are there every day and the pool is more popular than ever,” he said. “Give it up for Sue Wolfe!”

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