Prospect Street and the Baldwin Public Library parking lot bustled with hundreds of people throughout the day last Saturday for the inaugural Grand Baldwin Festival.
Hosted and organized by the Community Coalition of Baldwin, the festival promoted a vibrant business environment and celebrated the community and the recent announcement of a $10 million grant from the state to redevelop the downtown area.
“I really can’t believe that it turned out so spectacular,” said Claudia Rotondo, a Baldwin resident and a member of the Grand Baldwin Festival Planning Committee. “It really was beyond what I was thinking.”
The event drew Baldwinites and visitors alike, featuring local business vendors, live performances and entertainment, an art showcase and games.
“As a Baldwinite, this event makes me very proud to see the community come together,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. “I know there were some questions about whether this will be a success, and now, obviously, it’s a huge success, and I want to thank the community coalition and the whole crew for getting this together and uniting our wonderful community.”
Residents on the planning committee, besides Rotondo, included David Viana, Rita Cavanaugh, Colette Carrion, Willy and Ida Zambrano, Jessie Velasquez, Heidi Riegler and Karen Montalbano. Organizers said the festival was an excellent opportunity to celebrate Baldwin’s anticipated redevelopment and inspire the younger generation to stay.
“People seem really excited,” Viana said. “There are some great food vendors, we have different retail businesses, nonprofit organizations. We have some great performances, dancers and musicians, lined up. It’s been just five months, really, planning this event, and we’re really proud of ourselves for pulling this off. We think it turned out really well, and we can’t wait to see everyone’s pictures afterwards.”
The sun shone on the festivities, despite Rotondo’s worries about rainy weather. Coalition members, as well as members of the Baldwin Council Against Drug Abuse, began planning the festival in May, meeting throughout the spring and summer to brainstorm at workshops at the library.
“It was five months of planning, which is unbelievable, but we got it through, and we’re so happy,” Willy Zambrano said. “It really brings the community together as a whole, and I think it’s going to really be a great event to have every year.”
A variety of vendors, including longtime Baldwin businesses, enjoyed the sunny weather and mingled with festivalgoers throughout the day.
“It’s great to participate in the whole community of Baldwin coming together,” said Esther White, owner of the Carousel of Learning, a Baldwin business for more than 25 years. “It’s just a wonderful day, wonderful weather, wonderful event, and I wish everyone here to do really well.”
Dancers from Pat’s Dance Studio performed for the crowd, and students from Baldwin High School volunteered their time to paint children’s faces and help them with crafts.
“I think it’s awesome that the community is coming together and all these local businesses are supporting each other,” BHS senior Regina Gutierrez said. “It’s cool that Art Club, Key Club and the National Honor Society get to be a part of it because we get to contribute, fundraise for our school, and it’s just good vibes all around.”
“It’s been a terrific event,” said Steve Greenfield, the vice president of the Baldwin Civic Association. “The Baldwin Civic Association is here trying to encourage people to get engaged and participate in our activities and support and improve Baldwin and this event is instrumental in that.”
The library also celebrated its centennial anniversary simultaneously with a Family Fun Day, featuring an escape room, an acrobatics performance, a stuff-a-bear workshop, henna art, “kindness rocks” and face-painting. It also hosted a Centennial Gala on Oct. 5 to celebrate 100 years of service to the community.
Kitty O’Hara’s, Grandview Auto Body, the Baldwin Civic Association, FirstCare Medical Office, Zambrano Architectural Design and the Ridgewood Savings Bank were among the festival’s sponsors. The Baldwin-Freeport Farmer’s Market, which takes place at the Baldwin Long Island Rail Road station every Saturday, relocated to the festival to join the festivities for the day.