MARINE PARK – The Ryder Street Rockets, part of the Marine Park Community Association’s Gardening Club, met last Saturday, September 19 to plant new flower pots along the sidewalks of Quentin Road, a commercial street near their Ryder Street homes.
Anthony Besada, father of three of the Rockets, says his family appreciates spending time with neighbors they usually wouldn’t see.
“Instead of spreading out and seeing friends and family who are far away, the pandemic has forced everyone to focus on our friends and neighbors who are around us. I’ve even met neighbors that I’ve never spoken to before.”
As a result of pandemic restrictions and remote learning, students have had few opportunities to socialize with their peers, and it’s likely to remain that way for some time. Gardening gets these kids out of the house – for now – and socializing with their neighbors, Gardening Club founder Barbara Davis said.
“I knew some of the kids and their families. They asked if they could bring their friends, and I said sure, as long as they feel comfortable wearing masks,” and so the Ryder Street Rockets was born.
Davis hopes to expand her gardening squads to include other children in the community, and is looking to kids on the nearby Stuart Street to potentially work with her and form the “Stuart Street Slimers.”
The Rockets marched down their street at 9 a.m. donning brand new, bright green “Ryder Street Rockets” tee-shirts, ready to place new flower pots along Quentin Road between E 38th St and E 34th St.
Youngsters worked together to lift heavy bags, plant chrysanthemums for the fall, and arrange which tulip or daffodil bulbs went where – promising a cheerful spring as well. It was truly a team effort – some swept dirt, some watered the new plants, and some picked up trash. Everyone had a job, and everyone was working diligently.
Dedicated Rocket Matthew Farias, 12, says he has been helping Davis for three years “but technically all my life.” It’s true, Davis agreed, “he cleans up the beach, he helps at the park.”
Beatriz Besada, 8, admitted that her mother signed her up for the club. Nonetheless, she seemed happy scooping up dirt. At the end of the eventful morning, the Rockets headed back to Davis’ stoop to recharge with some ice pops and pretzels.
In the span of an hour and a half, the kids planted 10 flower pots, topping off each new pot with a little American flag that glimmered in the yellow Saturday morning sun.
At end of the morning, Gina Hairstylist, Long Nails, TKO Chicken & Ribs, Quentin Dairy & Deli, the Beauty Salon Unisex Corp, By Nikki Beauty Boutique, and Animal Clinic at 3616 Quentin Road all had brand new flower pots in front of their businesses.
The kids knocked on each of the business’ doors and asked if they would water them. They all said yes, coming out for a photo with the kids and the plants.
“We love it, we love seeing the kids making the street beautiful,” said Rickie Soong from Long Nails.