Sunset Park

The Daily Plant : Friday, February 22, 2002


On February 7, presiding over his first event as Parks Commissioner, Adrian Benepe delivered welcoming remarks at the opening reception of Reaching for the Sun, the exhibition currently on display in the Arsenal Gallery. The exhibit, produced by Parks’ Ebony Society’s Black History Committee in honor of black history month, features works by Parkies, former Parkies and members of Parks’ recreation centers. Works from quilts and puppets, to photographs and oil paintings are on display. Some of the handmade quilts took up to a year to create.

The highlights of the evening’s festivities, organized by Richard Cox, President of the Ebony Society, included Jackie Rowe-Adams leading the chorus of attendees in powerful renditions of The Star Spangled Banner and The Black National Anthem. The Von King Dance Group, under the direction of Ruby Batson, took center stage at the opening. Girls ranging in ages from five to twelve years old performed a piece choreographed to a music and spoken word compilation that expressed their thoughts after the September 11 attacks. The troupe performs again at the Marine Park Nature Center on Thursday, February 28 at 7:00 p.m.. Lee Henry, a PRM, ended the formal portion of evening by reading an excerpt from Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream Speech.

The exhibition, an annual tradition, could not have been made possible this year without the curatorial efforts of Ying Goodson and Maxine Clark. Kathy Walker, Anthony Bromell and Gigi Vaughan were among the many volunteers who contributed time and effort to produce the show.

The Ebony Society was founded in 1985 by Walter Adams and John Purvis. The Society stands 225 Parkies strong, and works to "develop a spirit of brotherhood, fellowship and solidarity among its members."

The Society’s Black History Committee held its annual Light of the World Award ceremony on February 20 in the Gallery surrounded by this extraordinary exhibit. The following individuals were honored for their outstanding contributions to Parks: Nancy Harvey, Assistant Council; Norman Cook, Bronx SPMO; Vernetta Diggs, Center Manager of Sunset Park Recreation Center in Brooklyn; Albert McMorris, Central Park SPMO; Valerie Edwards, Teens at Parks Coordinator in Queens Recreation; David W. Bethel, WEP Crew Chief in Staten Island; Clifford Adams, Stockhandler at 5-boro; Martin L. Christie, Director of Staten Island Construction at Olmsted; and Rosemary Ordonez, a volunteer at Crotona Park in the Bronx. This year's incredible group has been contributing to the Parks family for a total of 149 years and the Daily Plant congratulates them on receiving this honor.

By Adrian Sas


Wim DeRonde

Wim DeRonde has worked for Parks for 23 years at the Olmsted Center. He brings a wealth of experience to his position as the Supervisor of a design section of In-House Landscape Architects. Wim was born and raised in the Netherlands where he studied Landscape Architecture. As a student, he worked for parks departments in Copenhagen and Oslo as well as at the garden of Versailles in France. Wim first came to the United States in 1960 under an exchange program and worked in the design offices of A.E. Bye, Darling and Webbel and Coffey, Levine and Blumberg. His projects included original designs for Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center, the Park Avenue Malls and the Southeast Corner of Central Park. He also worked for the Montreal Parks Department for two years.

Wim began his career at Parks in 1978 and has been the designer of many important projects, including the reconstruction of the Park Avenue, Valley Forge Monument Restoration and Plaza, and the reconstruction of Steuben Park. Wim is especially talented with grading and planting design, and is patient in assisting other designers. Wim has over 40 years of experience in landscape architecture and is a great asset to Parks.


"Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected."

George Washington

(February 22, 1732-1799)

Directions to Sunset Park

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