Why do we live in Rockaway? Particularly the west end of Rockaway? Good neighbors, friends, community, beach, bay, good food, national park, and most of all Peace and Quiet? Yes, to all but lately not the last item. I’ve lived here most of my life, and like most other residents, experience that certain calm and comfort when we come over the bridge, arrive on the ferry, or get off the bus or subway.
Many of us work in or are retired from high-stress jobs, whether it be public service, private sector, healthcare providers, or are students of all ages. A few hours before you could have been dealing with a shooting, a devastating fire, a critical patient, a tough exam, or a difficult business matter. But when you arrive here, the mood and the atmosphere literally and figuratively changes. And that doesn’t mean we have been without our challenges locally including losses and sickness from 9/11, Flight 587, Sandy and of course the pandemic. But we always come together and help each other in ways not seen in many other places.
This latest issue of kids marauding through the neighborhood drinking and smoking and setting off fireworks and leaving a trail of debris and damage at all hours of the night—every night—is nothing new, but it is becoming an issue. We all have been young and hung out and sometimes have been stupid. Maybe it’s a release from people being cooped up these many last months. But something has got to change. It’s definitely not fair that many cannot enjoy the peace at night because of loud voices and fireworks and then have to face broken bottles every morning all over the sidewalks where little kids walk to school, cans and garbage on lawns, and vandalism to vehicles and property—including to heroes who have served this country and city. I don’t know if these are local kids or a mix of non-residents, and I don’t know if the fireworks (the ones after midnight that wake up dogs, kids and elderly) are set off by adults or kids. I do know that old adage that you don’t (politely) poop where you eat.
You’re messing up your own neighborhood. Kids, if you happen to be reading this, I know that most of you are good kids and neighbors during the day, so be the same way at night. And parents, neighbors, if you see and hear things getting out of hand, or your next-door neighbor is blowing off fireworks at 2am, let them know. Of course, we look to the NYPD to assist as best as they can, but at the end of the day, this is a communal responsibility. That said, I do fear sleep-deprived neighbors taking things too far which could end in a tragic result. I had to stop more than a few drivers from beating kids that threw eggs at their car on Halloween over the years, and very unfortunately we need not look further than recent events with a child tragically being killed because of an ongoing parking dispute. Let’s come out of this pandemic and enjoy life again, have fun, but not at the expense of others.
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