Free Community Event Celebrating Lillian Wald Offers Music, Dancing, Food & More
May 7, 2012 - By Ryan Wenzel
Nearly 600 people filled Henry Street on May 6 for a lively afternoon of music, dancing, old-time street games, and a slew of other activities to celebrate Settlement founder Lillian Wald's 145th birthday. The event was part of the Partners in Preservation Open House weekend.
The free, family-friendly block party had something for everyone: face-painting, street games, arts and crafts, tattoos and balloons for children; bingo games for seniors; Zumba lessons in the street; refreshments including hot dogs, pop corn, and birthday cake; and tours of the three landmarked row houses that make up Henry Street's headquarters. Staff from Henry Street programs were on hand to provide information and answer questions about the agency's services.
Among the guests were U.S. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and City Council Member Margaret Chin, both of whom also spoke at the event.
A highlight of the celebration was the Birthday Cake Baking Contest, judged by culinary luminaries Arthur Schwartz and Rozanne Gold; Ladies Home Journal food and entertaining editor Tara Bench; and Ed Litvak and Traven Rice, founders of the Lower East Side news blog The Lo-Down. Jilian Besemer and Chris McKeever won first-prize for their floral cake "Lilies for Lillian." Second prize was awarded to Peggy Coon for a banana cake, and third place went to Kira Wizner (with help from her daughters Leilani and Cecily) for a cake titled "Lillian's Journal." The three winners received a bag of aromatic Workforce Coffee (blended for Henry Street's Workforce Development Center by Plowshares Coffee Roasters; a portion of each sale is donated to Henry Street), a two-pound bag of Daisy Organic All-Purpose Flour; and Henry Street mugs and tote bags. The first-prize winner also received a three-bottle gift pack of wine of Oriel Wine.
Party guests were encouraged to use laptops at the event to vote for Henry Street Settlement in the ongoing Partners in Preservation grant competition. Henry Street is among 40 New York City organizations competing for a grant that would enable the Settlement to make its two-century-old headquarters more energy efficient, so it can spend less on energy bills and more on the vital social services, arts and healthcare programs provided to 50,000 individuals each year.