GRAMMY-nominated saxophonist Eric Wyatt was the highlight of the inaugural Fenimore Street United Methodist Church Fun Day on Aug. 26.
Wyatt’s participation at the historic event, on Fenimore Street, between Rogers and Bedford Avenues in Brooklyn, was compliments of the Prospect Lefferts Garden Heritage Council, according Marlene Ferguson, the Trinidadian-born chairperson of the church’s Family Life Committee.
“Hailing from Brooklyn, Eric’s musical journey is steeped in family tradition; his father played alongside jazz legends in Harlem, imparting his love for music to Eric,” said Richard Walkes, chair of the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Community, about Wyatt, who led a three-member jazz ensemble at the event.
“From playing the alto saxophone to transitioning to the tenor after his father’s passing, Eric’s talent shines bright,” added Walkes, who traces his roots to Barbados. “With Sonny Rollins as his godfather, Eric has flourished as a performer and composer.”
He said Wyatt’s captivating jazz tunes have “graced stages around the world.”
Ferguson, a retired registered nurse, told Caribbean Life that the historic Fun Day was “special” for Fenimore Street United Methodist Church Family and the residents of Fenimore Street.
“This was an opportunity for the church family and the residents of Fenimore Street to come together in unity, fellowship and love, as we strive to enhance our relationship, making our community a better place,” she said.
“We were thrilled to be together and enjoyed the opportunity to meet our neighbors face-to face, and even learned the names of each other,” she added. “I was very happy with the turn-out and also saw some of our extended church members, who always return to support us.”
Ferguson noted that the morning of the event was “blessed with showers”, but added that “the rain climaxed just in time to open the celebration, giving the families a fun day with cultural activities and food.”
The church’s pastor, the Rev. Roger Jackson, “offered his blessings on the food and for the success of the celebration,” Ferguson said.
“For the attendees who gathered to celebrate, the day was a success from the start,” she said. “I was thrilled and elated at the enthusiasm of the Fenimore residents, who took an active participation. They swept the street, brought drinks, ice, sodas, water, and others gave monetary donations.”
Ferguson gave special thanks to “all the vendors who came out to share information and educate the community of the available services and resources.”
She said her special moment of the day was “when everyone joined in the sing-along and became an active participant in the entertainment.
“Special thanks to DJ Alister Aird [a Grenadian-born member of the church], who was readily equipped to play any selection,” said Ferguson, disclosing that she had requested “Lean on Me ,” which was the theme song when she spearheaded the Cancer Survivor Celebrations at Downstate Hospital, where she served as a nursing administrator, for almost three decades, before retiring.
“We, as a community, striving to connect with each other, can only do so if we can lean on each other,” she added. “The lyrics state we all have pain; we all have sorrow; but if we are wise, we know that there is always tomorrow… Let us lean on each other for this is so critical for such a time as this right now.”
The Fun Day also featured, among other things, carnival costume displays by children of the church, provided by Vincentian mas producer Wesley Millington, band leader of the Brooklyn-based Mas Productions Unlimited.
As she gave away Mary Kay products at a table, church member Harriet Gooding, a Barbadian native, said: “It’s great that everyone came out to enjoy themselves today.
“With gentrification going on in the community, everyone is having a good time,” added Gooding, who served as liturgist during the church’s Sunday Worship Service for the month of August.
Rev. Jackson thanked members of the Family Life Committee for the successful event, stating that “they’re guided by God.
“This Fun Day is a wonderful success, and we thank God for it, and we look forward to what God is going to do in the future for Fenimore and the community,” he said.
Ferguson said the event would not be possible without the support, cooperation, hard work and dedication of the committee members, church family, residents of Fenimore Street, friends of Fenimore and sponsorship.
“First, the committee members are a unique group of individuals who have given extravagantly of their time and services,” she said. They go the utmost length to get the job done.
“Next, our church members continue to give generously of their finances,” she added. “Then, our ‘Friends of Fenimore’, who have relocated as far as Florida, Georgia, continue to support us.
“Locally, our friends in Bronx, Bed-Stuy, Rutland Road, Prospect Lefferts Garden Heritage Council – all coming forward and making everything seem so easy,” Ferguson continued. “I want to express immense appreciation for all our generous donors and sponsors, because the success of all our events relies on your giving.
“This was, indeed, the moment where cultural diversity unfolded – the spectacle of Brooklyn’s Diaspora, a community of people of various races, color, ethnicity seated together dancing, swaying and singing to the melodies,” she said. “I must express my sincere gratitude to Mr. Richard Walkes, who was instrumental in promoting this priceless entertainment.”
“What you’re seeing is unification of the community – to bring people together,” Walkes told Caribbean Life during the Fun Day.
“The church is the second oldest building in the manor,” he added about the century-odd-old Fenimore Street United Methodist Church on the corner of Rogers Avenue.
“We’re looking to put pressure on elected officials to put more affordable buildings in the community,” Walkes continued.