Howard Beach residents rally for reopening businesses

MARCH DOWN CROSS BAY BOULEVARD TO PROMOTE LOCAL STORES

BY BENJAMIN FANG

bfang@queensledger.com More than two dozen Howard Beach residents attended a rally calling for businesses in the area to reopen.

Organized by Hamilton Beach resident Priscilla Dolce, the demonstration kicked off at New Park Pizza, where attendees held signs and wore buttons. They marched down Cross Bay Boulevard for one mile and stopped at Vetro Restaurant & Lounge. Dolce said the purpose of the event was to promote small businesses on the boulevard, most of which are family-owned.

“This is what makes this neighborhood what it is,” she said. “We thrive on this.”

Although Cross Bay Boulevard was bustling with cars, pedestrians and activity on Saturday, Dolce said the commercial strip has been “empty” for the last few weeks. She thinks people had enough and began venturing out.

“For the first seven weeks, it was a ghost town here,” she said. “There was no life here.”

Although Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the first phase of New York City’s reopening on June 8, attendees said they did not think it was early enough. Dolce said the governor should have begun the first phase more than two weeks ago, when she said the COVID-19 curve flattened.

Dolce, who works at a catering facility, said she can’t even go back to work until Phase Four of the reopening. Still, she has to pay rent, her son’s college tuition and other bills.

“It’s not fair to keep all people home, how are we supposed to support our families?” she asked. “How are we supposed to live and pay our bills?”

More than two dozen residents held signs and wore buttons at the rally to reopen small businesses.

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