The temperature lingered in the low 90s. Rather than being the taco tour everyone dreamed, for many it was an exploration of the fresh juices, drinks, and ice cream on Roosevelt Avenue. In food total, I ate half a huitlacoche quesadilla and one shrimp from a friend’s ceviche. But for liquids and their semis, I ordered a strawberry, banana & orange juice shake from Los Chuzos, a homemade guanabana helado (soursop ice cream) in a cup on 82nd street, a coco (coconut drink) from an Ecuadoran cart on Warren Street, and a tangerine ice from the Lemon Ice King of Corona. Then on the way home from William Moore (Spaghetti) Park I had a chimichurri from a Dominican truck on 108th st and a wort drink from the big juice stand between 108 and 104 on Roosevelt. All this and I still had change from my pocket cash of $18.
From the number of maps and language guides I handed out, I estimate there were between 90 and 100 people crawling the streets. About 15 minutes after the 1pm start time, the large crowd was taking up the majority of the 75th street corner and I encouraged them to begin Roosevelt Avenue. Many I never saw again. I hope they fared well. Their tales are only beginning to come back to me now.
This was the day of the Mexico vs Argentina World Cup game. While some stayed home to watch, others took the crawl as an opportunity to be IN IT. At the 2:30 start time, fans left the ave and popped into bars to join the ruckus of the locals cheering for their country. When Argentina won, they continued back on the route. On a hot day like this, considering the 30+ blocks to be crossed, this turned out to be a prudent way to break up the crawl.
One comment I heard from a few was that there weren’t many specific hit points listed on my map (West map, East map). I gave some vocally when asked, but it is my position that it would be irresponsible to outwardly give recommendations. There are too many stands and they are ever-changing. If there are 10 items at 10 carts, that’s 100 items to know about. And that’s lowballing it. More likely, there are 15 items at 50 carts. I say anyone who gives you a recommendation is trying to cage you. If I were to write down favorites, I believe a great majority of our group would only go to those singular ones. My hope is that the crawlers would be able to come back and give ME tips for what was great. I’m trying to use the tourists as a hundred tastebuds scouring the avenue. That’s right, I’m selfish! Also, there is too much worthwhile to eat in any one crawl. I’m trying to give all the newcomers to Roosevelt Ave a reason to come back regularly and try more.
As far as advertising, Facebook was the most efficient way of telling people what’s up. Events on FB can go viral because most people are already on it and they use it everyday. The only newspaper which mentioned the crawl was Metro NY, which I am happy to be in egotistically, but functionally, it didn’t give a huge help to putting people on the streets – I believe only a group of four came from there (very nice people, thanks for coming). Along with my experiences from the 5-Boro Pizza Tour and other events, I’m learning that traditional news organizations need events like this just as much, if not more, than the people putting on the events need them. Yelp seems to have vitality, but the truth is most people don’t convert to IRL (in real life). A surprising source, which I never heard of before was couchsurfing.com. This site is great – adventurous tourists and locals organizing and coordinating fun activities all over the city. We had at least 25 people come from that site alone. I would definitely like to see what more potential CS has to offer. Other online friends and food blogs were a big help too, as well as the growing amount of people who are getting in on my events. Overall, there wasn’t one outlet which made this such a success, but the help from many friends who wanted to see this be awesome.
It would be unreasonable to expect a larger crowd, although it surprises me that anyone in the tri-state area would not want to spend a day doing something like this. How could only 100 out of 18 million want to do this?? The only thing I find disappointing is that I didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked with everyone who came. The ending times were too spread out and the various groups ended up just missing each other. I also would have liked to be there when the initial throng of people embarked the vendors. That must have been a fun sight.
Special thanks to Andrew Ronan and the crew from June in Jackson Heights for their support and inspiration. I wouldn’t have put it on if it wasn’t for working with them on JH Restaurant Week and the urgency to promote our area. This Roosevelt Avenue Crawl is such an effective way of showing off everything I love about this neighborhood that it’s emerged as a great fulfillment of Woodside, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, and Corona’s potential. Until I become irrelevant, this crawl will be my grand event of the year.
Get ready for the Midnght Crawl in August.
Edible Queens’ World’s Fare Coverage
Jim U from yelp’s 7 reviews of what he hit (including the now infamous Raspado L.).
Cnet’s The 404 podcast, Wilson came to the taco crawl (listen at 7:40)
Pictures and a small post from alwayzbeinme.blogspot