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Gospel Fest draws hundreds to Baisley Park concert

Hundreds of southeast Queens residents came out to Baisley Park Saturday for a faith-filled day of family fun as Gospel Fest returned for a fourth year.

More than two dozen gospel acts took the stage during the free, day-long event put together by the city Parks Department and the office of City Councilman Thomas White (D-South Ozone Park).

“When I was a kid, we never had stuff like this,” said Tameka Davis, a Laurelton resident. “This is my music, God is my life. So, for me, this is a perfect day.”

Iris Rodriguez-Rosa, the Parks Department’s chief of recreation, said southeast Queens is an ideal location to hold Gospel Fest.

“When we started looking to do an event like this, one of the first things we noticed is how many churches there are,” Rodriguez-Rosa said. “This is a community of faith, and since we started it, Gospel Fest has grown and grown.”

In addition to the musical acts that performed throughout the day, inflatable bounce castles were set up and barbecues cooked up hot food.

White, who helped start the annual event in 2006, said events like Gospel Fest provide a window into a community’s soul.

“It’s like showing the true side of a community that’s far too often portrayed as a troubled one,” White said. “It’s been a wonderful marriage of community interests and nature, and we’re going to keep adding more and more and more events like this.”

Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) said sponsoring free events is also important in a recession, particularly in communities like southeast Queens, which has been devastated by the foreclosure crisis.

“It’s always great to give people the opportunity to enjoy events free of charge that they otherwise might not have the chance to experience,” Comrie said. “This also opens up the parks to the entire community and shows people that they have this great resource right in their backyard.”

For more information about other Parks Department-sponsored events planned for the summer, visit nycgovparks.org.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at sstirling@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, ext. 138.

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