Fall Gets a Bountiful Welcoming on Roosevelt Island

Scenes from Fall for Arts 2017 and Bubble Tea's "Soft Opening"

David Stone
"Soft Opening" for Bubble Tea. First 30 customers are treated for free.
"Soft Opening" for Bubble Tea. First 30 customers are treated for free.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

For the first fall weekend on Roosevelt Island, there were bright skies. Mid 80s heat added to a busy joyful feel from Good Shepherd Plaza South to FDR Four Freedoms Park. First, though, came the surprise of a "soft opening" for Bubble Tea at 559 Main Street.

No signs were up yet, but word of mouth traveled fast. A line of customers curled out the front door and around the store front almost to Island House's protruding steps.

We're happy to be here, Roosevelt Island. The first thirty customers got their treat for free.

After pausing to chat with friends working their tables at the Disabled Association's busy Flea Market, I took an early look at the murals just beginning to be born on the lawn south of Rivercross.

Tad Sudol and Ioan Popoiu, Gallery RIVAA artists, pencil sketched the framework of what, by the end of the day, would be a colorful, orange-accented abstract map of Roosevelt Island.

A few steps away, Laura Hussey worked alone, drawing figures later brought to life with paint.

Kite Flight for Peace

At FDR Four Freedoms Park, the meadow made running room for kids and parents lifting kits into the breezy air with the United Nations forming a backdrop, just across the East River.

Four Freedoms Park Conservancy sponsors this free event every year in coordination with International Peace Day.

Back up the Island, in Southpoint Park, Judy Berdy showed off the newest pieces from the Visitor Center Kiosk, which she created and manages, acting as Roosevelt Island's unofficial ambassador at the Tram Plaza.

She showed me a nifty mug recognizing our newest local advantage, NYC Ferry, and a matching refrigerator magnet, both ready for sale.

As we talked, music floated down over the small knoll behind us.

RIOC arranged a music and dance sing-along for kids whose parents couldn't resist the fun.

Our colony of Canadian Geese found a home, and after years of construction and unsettling relocations, the community, hatchlings now grown to adult size, appreciated Cornell Tech's rolling, southern meadow.

Back to the Murals

Themed murals - Relentless Rhythm: City in Motion, this year - have from the beginning been RIOC's most recognizable contribution during the Fall for Arts Festival, collaborating with Gallery RIVAA.

The murals, all originals made from materials supplied by RIOC, enliven the area around the Meditation Steps and Southpoint Park for weeks, and even when they come down as rougher weather approaches, many find new homes around the Island. For years, they've transformed Motorgate from a dreary parking garage, relieving the monotony of poured concrete with a community of art and color.

I asked Laura Hussey to talk with us about her work in progress, one that's now complete along Main Street.

Back at Good Shepherd Plaza, RIDA's Flea Market was still going strong, and while the line had grown shorter, it was far from ending at Bubble Tea, soon to make its hard opening as a new anchor in the core business district.

Autumn was off to a vivid, promising start.


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