Rockaway Avenue is at the heart of Valley Stream’s business district, and usually sees lots of shoppers and drivers on the weekends. But last Saturday, Rockaway Avenue had its busiest day of the year, during the second annual Valley Stream Community Fest.
This year’s festival featured more than 140 businesses, community groups and exhibits lining both sides of Rockaway Avenue, between Merrick Road and Sunrise Highway.
Debbi Gyulay, president of the Valley Stream Chamber of Commerce and a member of the organizing committee, said that each member of the team knew their role, and that made the preparation easier. Also, she added, businesses from Rockaway Avenue and other areas took full advantage of the increased pedestrian traffic to show the community what they offer.
Resident Tina Singh walked up Rockaway Avenue with her 4-year-old daughter, Sophia, who was carrying a pink balloon. Singh said she is normally focused on the stoplights and traffic when she drives on Rockaway Avenue and doesn’t take in the surrounding stores, but she noticed some new businesses during the festival. “It’s nice to actually see what we have in the community,” she said.
One of the businesses that saw a big uptick in customers last Saturday was a Rockaway Avenue staple, the T&F Pork Store. Joe Carlino has owned and operated T&F for the past seven years, after his father ran the business for the previous three decades. Carlino said he loved the idea of a community festival, and was eager to take part the past two years. He served zeppoles and other hot food, and said the response was nothing but positive. “We got a few people who’ve never been here before, who saw the store and liked it,” he said.
This year’s event featured some new additions, including a classic car show and an outdoor bowling alley courtesy of Rockville Centre Lanes.
Michael Cutrone, 7, a second-grader at Robert W. Carbonaro Elementary School, not only tried bowling, but learned a few things at the Mad Science tent, where children did age-appropriate experiments.
Michael’s dad, Richard, said that the festival was fun for kids and adults, and added that when it was over, he and his family would enjoy a dinner at one of the avenue’s restaurants.