The best of Brooklyn strutted its stuff during the annual extravaganza put on by Borough President Marty Markowitz during his State of the Borough address.
This year, the newly renovated Park Slope Armory at Eighth Avenue and 15th Street – open just a week – was the setting for the spectacular event, which featured a plethora of homegrown entertainment, including the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, the Brooklyn Ballet, Brooklyn’s Three Tenors, Sesame Flyers performers in full Carnival regalia, and a quick display of moonwalking by six-year-old Ikim Whitley of East Flatbush.
The centerpiece of the event was Markowitz’s swearing in, with the hardly-retiring beep taking the oath of office from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, while Markowitz’s mom, Dorothy, and wife, Jamie stood by.
A sense of cheer prevailed through most of the event, as the borough’s most relentless booster went over a year’s worth of achievements, as well as future plans in a wide variety of areas, for the thousand-plus people in the crowd, in a speech that lasted the better part of an hour.
Markowitz made a point of emphasizing the importance of the borough president and community boards in advocating for Brooklyn and in protecting the borough’s interests. “I ran or this office because I wanted to make the borough president the most important job for Brooklynites,” Markowitz averred. “And, I work every single day to make sure Brooklyn gets its fair share, which means, whatever we get, it’s not enough.”
Among the highlights of Markowitz’s speech was the blockbuster announcement that the grand old movie palace, the Loew’s Kings, would be rehabilitated to become an arts center for the borough (see separate story in this issue), as well as his announcement of plans to rethink Fourth Avenue, and turn it into Brooklyn Boulevard. Markowitz also said that an effort was underway to rehabilitate two other Brooklyn Armories, in Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy, as recreation centers similar to the Park Slope one.
Upcoming events got mentions, such as Dine in Brooklyn Restaurant Week, which will take place March 15th through 25th; and the Brooklyn Book Festival, Sunday, September 12th.
Markowitz also announced the borough’s new Poet Laureate, Park Slope’s Tina Chang, who read a poem composed specifically for the event.
As the extended speech wound down, the borough president took the time to remember Brooklynites who had died over the past year, with the names of prominent borough residents who had died in 2009 scrolling in an honor roll on the large screens.
The borough’s diversity was in view throughout Markowitz’s oration, nowhere more so than as he approached the end of his speech and spoke about Adelman’s Deli on Kings Highway.
“Adelman’s was owned by Jews who then sold the business to Italians who hired Egyptian Muslim Mohammed Salem to work as a busboy,” Markowitz recounted. “Well, 20 years later, Mohammed too the reins, and fort he past four years has enjoyed the full benefits of ownership, and the pastrami never tasted this good! A Muslim owner of a Kosher deli. That’s the American dream, Brooklyn-style.”