The RIRA Column

Apr 11, 2015

Jeffrey Escobar, President
Roosevelt Island Residents Association
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Flowers are blooming, the sun is rising earlier and setting later, kids abound outdoors, neighbors have shed many layers of clothing and are strolling around, and a general buzz of excitement and happiness is in the air. It’s finally springtime on Roosevelt Island, and our little ship (toot, toot) in the East River is coming alive again.

Cherry Blossom Festival

If you’re reading this before Saturday afternoon, chances are that you’re planning to spend this day enjoying the performances, food, and fun at the Fourth Cherry Blossom Festival. A nearly annual event, usually produced by RIRA’s Social, Cultural and Educational Services Committee (SC&E), the Festival was started in 2011 to commemorate and celebrate the communities of Japan that were devastated in that March’s tsunami. 2015’s Cherry Blossom Festival honors one of the event’s founders, Junko Hasegawa, with the release of nearly 1,100 origami cranes (hanging in strands from the promenade’s railing on the way to the parks). And the Festival shares many Japanese experiences with the Roosevelt Island community. At Four Freedoms Park, from 1:00 p.m. to 5 p.m., there will be karate, samurai swordsmanship, classical dance, and a variety of musical performances. At Gallery RIVAA, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., there will be a Japanese ink painting workshop and a Japanese flute concert.

Today’s events begin at 11:00 a.m., with an SC&E-sponsored community picnic in Southpoint Park, and with the Historical Society’s annual Cherry Blossom Walk beginning at their Tram kiosk. Many thanks, as always, to SC&E and to its chair, Lynne Shinozaki, for again putting on this special event. Without Lynne’s leadership and the work of the committee and its volunteers, such extensive planning and execution wouldn’t be possible. [There’s a full schedule on page 6.]

Hands-Only CPR

Many thanks are due to another RIRA member, Sharon Williams, for her tireless efforts to train our community in how to provide hands-only CPR. Through close collaboration with New York’s chapter of the American Heart Association (AHA), more than 435 Roosevelt Islanders have been trained in the life-saving skill. The efforts of Ms. Williams and the New York AHA chapter have not gone unnoticed – the Board of Regents of the New York State Education Department has recommended that CPR training be a graduation requirement in New York State. Interested in joining the movement and getting hands-only CPR training? It will be available on Wednesday, May 6, at 10:45 a.m. in the Senior Center Lounge at 546 Main Street, on Tuesday, May 12, at 8:00 p.m. in the 12th Floor conference room at 546 Main Street, and on Sunday, May 24, at 5:45 p.m. in the Good Shepherd Center at 543 Main Street. Use 30 minutes of your time to learn the technique – you may just save a life later.

Blood Drive

Another way to help save a life is to participate in the 14th annual RIRA Blood Drive, which benefits the New York Blood Center. RIRA volunteers will once again be manning a sign-up table at the Farmer’s Market, for four consecutive Saturdays beginning in late May, to register potential donors. The Blood Drive will culminate with the pledged blood being donated during the annual Roosevelt Island Day festivities on June 13. If you’re able to donate, please sign up. (Scot Bobo’s Main Street Sweets is offering an incentive – if you pledge, you can get a second scoop of ice cream for free!)

RIRA Table

Also during June 13’s Roosevelt Island Day, the SC&E Committee and the rest of the Common Council will host RIRA’s annual breakfast table for volunteers. Come by, say hello to your neighbors, and have a bagel, juice, and coffee on us! More information about this year’s festivities in future columns.

RIRA Committees & Seats

As we throw off the doldrums of winter and recharge ourselves with the warmth of spring and then summer, each of us should also use this time to renew our ties to one another and to our Island. I again call on you, as a member of the community, to be more active in RIRA – to lend your passion, talents, and expertise, and to join one or more of RIRA’s many committees. Interested in joining a committee or otherwise becoming more involved? Contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information on how to maximize your involvement in RIRA and its committees’ many works.

Moreover, Common Council seats have opened for Manhattan Park, The Octagon, and Roosevelt Landings, and the spring months and the summer hiatus are perfect times to explore the possibility of representing these buildings for the remaining year-plus of the present two-year Common Council term. For more information, feel free to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or Aaron Hamburger, Chair of the Nominations Committee, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Happy Spring!

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