Just because the pandemic is limiting communities from spending Memorial Day weekend together in a traditional way — parades followed by poolside parties complete with barbecue dinners, ice cream desserts and fireworks at night — doesn’t mean the holiday has to be spent apart. In order to maintain social distancing while still celebrating the weekend that marks the beginning of the summer, the American Cancer Society and the Queens Chronicle have teamed up to virtually gather with veterans, small businesses and Queens families.
“This is the first of its kind,” said ACS Community Development Manager Molly Dougherty. “We wanted to bring it to a virtual platform given the condition ... Who would have ever thought that we’d be relying on technology this way? But it’s providing an opportunity for us — It’s a way to bring us all together and adapt to our situation.”
The virtual event is entertainment for all ages, and includes segments ranging from recipe sharing, family activities and craft instructions. It will take place on Microsoft Teams on Saturday, May 23, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., available at bit.ly/3dVAer6. It is free to attend, though donations are strongly encouraged, 100 percent of which will go toward the ACS, especially for soldiers and veterans who have received a cancer diagnosis.
“I’m telling people this event will take place in three folds. First, it’s a fundraiser and a way to promote cancer awareness ... We’re continuing to push forward in our mission to help lives and protect,” said Dougherty, adding that cancer patients are at an especially high risk during the COVID-19 pandemic because their immune systems are lower than the average, healthy individuals.
“The second fold — it’s a way to highlight the true meaning of Memorial Day; to honor those who have served,” she continued. In addition to the activities available for families, the show will have three special guests, one of which is a veteran who survived both his time at war as well as a cancer diagnosis.
“The third fold is a way to shed some light on local businesses,” said Dougherty. Some of the Queens restaurants that will participating in the show and sharing some culinary wisdom include Neir’s Tavern, LIC Caterers, Fillmore’s Tavern and Magna Restaurant. Businesses such as Helium Image will also appear to share some tips for creating unique at-home crafts. “They are still here and are amazing. They have donated their time to be a part of this, and that speaks volumes.”
Though the program aims to raise awareness for cancer patients, veterans and small businesses, Doughtery says the opportunity it provides to gather as a community is invaluable.
“In my opinion, Queens has always been a strong borough. We’re tough New Yorkers,” she said. “This Memorial Day will look a lot different than last, but it’s a special holiday. It’s definitely about honoring the holiday and being together ... and it’s a kick off of summer!”
Those interested in more information and or businesses interested in participating can contact Ree Brinn of the Queens Chronicle at (718) 669-0628 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To make a donation to the ACS, visit charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/queenschronicle.