Week in Rewind: Trump rallies at Crotona Park, Gun Hill Brewery shutters, local students win big with ‘life-changing’ scholarships and more

People listen outside former President Donald Trump's campaign rally in the Bronx's Crotona Park on Thursday, May 23, 2024.
Photo Camille Botello

‘Trump isn’t welcome in the Bronx’: Counter demonstrations take shape the day of former president’s South Bronx campaign event

Local Bronx politicians, unions and political organizations brought a heated response to former President Donald Trump’s well-attended campaign rally in Crotona Park Thursday evening.

Hundreds congregated at the northeast end nearly three hours before the start of the counter rally — dubbed “Trump isn’t welcome in the Bronx” — on May 23.

Local Bronx organizers host a counter rally in the Bronx’s Crotona Park at the same time as former President Donald Trump’s campaign rally at the same place on Thursday, May 23, 2024.Photo Camille Botello

Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson had choice words to say about the former president at the counter rally, calling him “a distraction” and “a criminal.” Public Advocate Jumaane Williams had a similar sentiment, saying Trump “represents the worst leaders in history.”

Just down the hill from the “Trump isn’t welcome in the Bronx” rally, the former president was met with thousands of his supporters — some of whom traveled across the country to attend his campaign event on May 23.

“This is my 77th Donald Trump rally,” Edward Young from New Jersey told affiliate amNewYork-Metro. “A Donald Trump rally is the greatest show on Earth.”

Former President Donald Trump rallies his supporters during a campaign event in Crotona Park on May 23, 2024.Photro Dean Moses

According to amNewYork-Metro, Trump positioned himself as a hometown hero during his campaign rally in Crotona Park, taking aim at both Biden and the media for the duration of his hour-plus long speech.

Last call: Gun Hill Brewery shutters its doors in the Bronx

Gun Hill Brewery has been an institution in the Bronx for a decade. People fell in love with the atmosphere — and beer — and the brewery was a place where strangers became friends. On May 18, it served its last drink.

Located at 3207 Laconia Ave., the brewery was the brainchild of owners Kieran Farrel and Dave Lopez. The brewery, which also has a taproom, had become a destination for New Yorkers and tourists, Farrel told the Bronx Times.

Gun Hill Brewery served its last drink on May 18.
Gun Hill Brewery served its last drink on May 18, marking the end of a decade-long run in the Bronx.Photo Jason Cohen

However, with rising costs from inflation and never recovering from COVID-19, Farrel said they came to the tough decision last month that closing was the only option.

This now leaves the Bronx Brewery at East 136th Street as the only brewery in the borough.

“The last thing we wanted to do was close this location,” Farrel said. “We’re proud of what we accomplished here. So many people have thanked me for bringing this here. We did something special here and as a community, they supported it.”

Bronx students win big with ‘life-changing’ Garden of Dreams Foundation scholarships

Several Bronx students were among those recently awarded scholarships from the nonprofit Garden of Dreams Foundation, which works with MSG Sports, MSG Entertainment and Sphere Entertainment to build community and support youth and families experiencing hardship.

Of the 13 students from the tri-state area who were awarded scholarships, seven are from the Bronx — and those lucky recipients now have $60,000 less to worry about when it comes to covering their college expenses.

One student who received the good news is Isis Troxler, who is graduating a year early from Bronx Career and College Preparatory High School.

Throughout her elementary years, Troxler told the Bronx Times she had several great mentors from the nonprofit Children’s Aid, a partner of the Garden of Dreams Foundation. She later participated in the MSG Classroom program, which gives students firsthand experience in the media industry.

Isis Troxler (left) and Aneudy Carmona (right), two Bronx students who won big scholarships from the Garden of Dreams FoundationPhotos courtesy Garden of Dreams Foundation

Troxler began doing more and more events with the nonprofits — and taking on more prominent roles. She sang in the Garden of Dreams annual talent show and helped to host a Children’s Aid benefit last year that raised over $2 million.

At these events, Troxler said she was proud to be a “mini-ambassador” for both nonprofits that greatly influenced her life.

“I loved every second of it,” she said.

By that point, Troxler knew she wanted to attend college but was worried about paying for it. As one of five siblings, money was tight in the family, she said. So when her contacts with the Garden of Dreams Foundation told her about the scholarship, she decided to apply.

Despite her dedicated involvement with the nonprofit, Troxler thought her application was a long shot. She never saw the good news coming — even while being asked to speak about the Garden of Dreams Foundation alongside Knicks legend John Starks for an April 18 appearance on Good Day New York.

But Starks delivered the surprise to Troxler and her parents, who were backstage, that she won the scholarship. To her embarrassment, she started crying on live TV.

Aneudy Carmona, a senior at X259 H.E.R.O. High in the South Bronx, was another student completely surprised by having won the scholarship — especially because he has only lived in the U.S. since the start of high school.

Carmona, who lives near Yankee Stadium with his aunt, told the Bronx Times that coming to a new country “was really tough at first.” He said he was a great student in the Dominican Republic, but with his mother back in their home country and not knowing English, his grades slipped.

Carmona began taking classes at Hostos Community College to earn credits towards his degree — but when it came to his scholarship application, like Troxler, “I’m not gonna lie, I was doubting myself,” he said.

But on April 29, he was shown a video with UFC fighter Ryan Spann announcing that Carmona was one of the scholarship winners.

Four firefighters injured in three-alarm Wakefield fire: FDNY

Four firefighters suffered minor injuries while responding to a three-alarm blaze in the Bronx just after 7 a.m. on Tuesday, May 21, according to the FDNY.

When FDNY personnel arrived at 981 East 233rd St. in Wakefield, they found heavy smoke and fire that seemed to be concentrated at a plumbing supply store within a row of one-story commercial buildings, although the origins of the fire are under investigation.

Hazmat Company 1 had to remove several propane tanks from the fire area.Photo Lloyd Mitchell

The fire quickly spread to other nearby commercial businesses and an adjacent two-family residential building at 4013 Gunther Ave., according to the Department of Buildings. No one was injured, but the agency issued Full Vacate Orders for all affected buildings. The American Red Cross was on site to assist residents.

Several propane tanks were removed from the scene, and reports of a roof collapse at one of the buildings could not be confirmed by FDNY.

More than 138 firefighters from 33 units responded to the fire, which was deemed under control at 8:53 a.m.

AOC rallies supporters in the South Bronx ahead of June primary

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), one of the world’s most prominent political figures who was born to a Parkchester family, rallied at least 100 supporters and volunteers on Sunday, May 19, at the Bronx Brewery’s location on East 136th Street. The Bronx Times was given exclusive access to the event and spoke with AOC following the rally.

The group gathered ahead of a neighborhood door-knocking mission to prepare voters for the June 15 primary election, in which Ocasio-Cortez faces a challenger — Marty Dolan — for the first time since 2020.

While Dolan, a retired Wall Street insurance executive, has never held public office and has only about $20,000 in his mostly self-funded campaign coffers, it bears remembering that Ocasio-Cortez was once a newbie herself — a waitress and bartender who shocked the political system when she defeated incumbent Joe Crowley in the 2018 primary.

Photo Emily Swanson

While waiting to hear from Ocasio-Cortez and other speakers, supporters gathered on the brewery production floor to sip craft beers, eat empanadas and mingle with Latin music in the background. Numerous campaign posters hung on the brewing tanks, walls and canning equipment.

The crowd included people of all ages — from toddlers, to teens to seniors — many of whom immediately put on the purple campaign T-shirts handed out by staffers.

In a fiery speech on the brewery floor, Ocasio-Cortez said she remains dedicated to fighting the “greed and bigotry” that have “infected” the Bronx when it comes to developmentand to ending conflicts around the world — especially in Gaza — in order to free up money for investments back home.

Ocasio-Cortez reflected on her Bronx roots, being born into a Puerto Rican immigrant family with a one-bedroom apartment in Parkchester. Though the family later moved out of the city, her Bronx beginnings remain central to her work as a lawmaker, she said.

“I can’t do this and not be me,” said Ocasio-Cortez, “flaws and all.”

While Dolan has accused her of ignoring constituents in pursuit of celebrity status, Ocasio- Cortez said, “I will never walk away from this community.”

Ocasio-Cortez will face Dolan in the primary race for the 14th Congressional District, which includes about 700,000 residents of several neighborhoods of the East and South Bronx, as well as Astoria, East Elmhurst and other Queens neighborhoods.

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