- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.Q6qPkwFC.dpuf Following Piano Theft, Norwood Residents Say 'You Can't Take Away Our Hope' (VIDEO) | Bronx News Networkbronx

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Following Piano Theft, Norwood Residents Say 'You Can't Take Away Our Hope' (VIDEO)

Norwood residents young and old helped paint the new community piano in Oval Park. (Photos by Rachel Sander)
Friends of the Williamsbridge Oval Park and a number of helpful local residents gathered today in the park to paint the recently-donated piano that will replace the Sing for Hope Pop-Up Piano that was stolen earlier this week.

It remains a mystery who took the piano and how they were able to remove the hulking instrument from the park, but the Norwood community is celebrating today and once again feeling hopeful. More than two dozen kids and adults chipped in to give the piano a bright new paint job. (See video at the bottom of this story.)

"It's really incredible, because even though this was such a bad and depressing story, within 24 hours, the community came together to help fix it," Ralph Martell said.

Volunteers Mayttee Flaz and  9-month-old son Odin Alice
The new piano, which hails from 5th Avenue and 48th Street, was donated anonymously and picked up last night in a pick-up truck by several dedicated (and strong) community members.

The Pop-Up Piano program, which put community pianos in 88 city parks, officially ends July 2. All the pop-up pianos will be donated to different schools throughout the city when the program runs out. Monica Yunus, co-founding director of Sing for Hope, said they will still be donating a piano to the school that was supposed to get the piano that was in Oval Park.

But this replacement piano will be able to stay in the park and now belongs to the community. Lis von Uhl added that she hopes to eventually keep the piano in the Oval Park rec center once renovations are completed. (The Parks Department says the rec center renovations should be done by end of this fall.)

Young maestros take the piano for a spin.
Despite all the good cheer surrounding the replacement piano, some residents remain wary. "Who's to say that this one won't get stolen too? Or broken? There is a real problem in is this area [with vandalism and theft]," Anna Sapoundjieva said. "There were three port-a-potties that got burned and they've been lighting benches on fire!" she added.

There are legitimate security concerns in Oval Park. A man was murdered in the park last year; graffiti and vandalism are a constant threat. But von Uhl said Sing for Hope was helping them secure the piano by permanently locking it to a bench. Plus, there's hope that the hope community will now stay vigilant about their own piano.   

"The community rallied to get this piano and I imagine the community will rally to protect it," Yunus said. "And that is what our program is all about, making the arts available for community."


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