46TH Annual ‘Bronx Week’ a Prelude to Summer
By David Greene
Despite years of the Bronx Tourism Council moving dates for the week-long “Bronx Week” festivities, often leaving those on the red carpet at the black tie gala called, “The Bronx Ball,” a muddy mess, alas, “Woodstock.”
However, this year’s annual induction to the ‘Bronx Walk of Fame’ along the Grand Concourse and the Bronx Day Parade and Festival along Mosholu Parkway, both held on May 19– was a day of perfect weather, making the event a success to thousands of attendees despite a smaller crowd along the parade route and three lesser known honorees.
Inductees this year to the Bronx “Walk of Fame,” immortalized with specially made street signs that now hang above the Grand Concourse, that now bares the names of professional boxing champion Iran Barkley, planetary scientist Carolyn Porco and singer, songwriter Regina Spektor.
At the Bronx Week 2019 kick-off ten days earlier, Borough President Ruben Diaz stated, “This year’s honorees are role models for their achievements in their respective fields and they show that, if given a chance, a child from the Bronx can become a world-renowned pianist, a champion boxer or even a planetary scientist.”
Diaz introduced the honorees, who were later presented with a special Citation of Merit and a goody-bag of Bronx-made or related items.
Porco, who spent her first 17 years in the Bronx before becoming a key member of the NASA Voyager Program, told a crowd at the Bronx County Courthouse, “I have never found any place that had a sense of community like I found in the Bronx.”
“The image that we have,” Porco continued, “or people from the outside (have) of New York, New Yorker’s sitting on their stoops in the summer and talking to neighbors as they go by and so on. That’s what it was really like in my neighborhood.”
Now delivering a well thought out message more deserving of a crowd of United Nations dignitaries or members of Congress, Porco told the audience, “That’s the kind of communicable feeling that makes people care about each other in their neighborhood, not just their family, but their extended family in their neighborhood. And the way that we are, as you know, are facing unprecedented problems now in what we’re doing to the environment, what we’re doing to the biosphere, what we’re doing to the oceans, these are enormous problems.”
Porco concluded, “The solutions to them are not technological, we know how to solve most of these problems and the ones that we may not now have solved, we could readily attain the know-how, given enough resources, that’s not the problem. The problem is that the challenge in solving problems like this is the problems are not local, there global and we as a species have to find a way to come to a unified and coherent way of thinking and a unified purpose among all the people’s of the world in order to make some headway.”
The less talkative, but no less interesting Barkley, who won world championships in three weight divisions and in one six-year stretch fought a string of boxing A-list, including Roberto Duran, Michael Nunn, Nigel Benn, James Toney and two bouts with Thomas “The Hit Man” Hearns.
The shy and reserved Barkley told the audience, “I’m just honored and happy and glad to do what I can do for this community that I came from, the Bronx.” He added, “And just live life, life is good.”
Spektor, a classical trained pianist as well as a successful singer, songwriter, recalled, “My entire life is possible through the kindness of the people my family and I have met,” after moving to the borough. She told the crowd, “How awesome it is that I moved from the former Soviet Union to the Bronx!”
The three honorees then joined Diaz as they unveiled the new street signs which joined other Bronxites along the Bronx Walk of Fame, including comedian Robert Klein, rapper Fat Joe and singer Willie Colon and rocker Dion DiMucci, to name a few.
Enjoying the daylong festival with his wife and 9 year-old daughter, longtime Bedford Park resident Adrian Cruz recalled, “It’s a wonderful festival, we come every year and it’s very good what their doing for the Bronx.”
Cruz did say he thought they should have more events for children as many of the rides and games they’ve had for children in the past, were absent this year.