June 10, 2016 By Michael Florio
Residents will have the opportunity to celebrate the history of Jackson Heights this weekend.
The Jackson Heights Beautification Group, a community group that works to preserve the neighborhood, will be hosting its 26th annual “Historic Jackson Heights Weekend.”
The weekend will kick off with a slideshow Saturday showcasing the history of the neighborhood at 10:45 am at the Community United Methodist Church, located at 81-10 35th Ave.
There will be a second showing of the slideshow at 12:15 pm.
An exhibition of vintage photographs and memorabilia of the neighborhood will be on display at the church from 10 am to 2 pm Saturday. Both are free to attend.
“These photograph’s are only shown once a year,” Dan Karatzas, the Beautification Group’s Director, said.
Attendees will also be able to go on self-guided tours through 15 private gardens, surrounded by 1920’s apartments, on Saturday.
The garden tour will run from 12 pm to 4 pm on Saturday, with tickets costing $10. Tickets can be purchased at the church and will come with a map of the garden district. A rain date has been scheduled for June 18th for this event only.
“Many of these are not open to the public the rest of the year,” Karatzas said. “This is the only day they can be seen.”
In recent years, more than 250 people have taken part in this tour, according to Karatzas, who has been with the organization since 1988. In the early years, only a handful of people showed up, he said.
The activities will continue on Sunday with a guided walking tour through the historic district.
Karatzas said that those people who plan to attend the guided tour are required to meet by Community Church, at the southwestern corner of 82ndStreet and 35th Avenue at noon. The tour will cost $10.
The organization is advising those interested in participating in the guided tour to buy their tickets in advance from Espresso 77, located at 35-57 77th Street, and Beaudoin Realty Group, located at 78-27 37th Avenue, Suite 5, Second Floor. Tickets will be sold on Weekdays from 11 am to 5 pm.
The guided tour will be limited to 50 attendees, Karatzas said.
The event was started 26 years ago to raise awareness of the neighborhood and the historical value it possessed, according to JHBG President Len Maniace.
“The tour started many years ago as an effort to focus attention on the architecture of Jackson Heights,” he said. “Back then, our built environment was not appreciated as it is today.”
The event helped pave the way for the historic district that exists today, according to Maniace.
“It is a feel-good event that helps bring the community together,” Karatzas added. “We started it over 25-years ago to help raise awareness of everything the community offers.”
“Today, it is a way to teach new community members about the neighborhood,” he added.