Nearly 175 Sunnyside residents—many accompanied by children—turned out for a rally Sunday afternoon in an attempt to save Sunnyside Center Cinemas from the wrecking ball.
Many residents who attended the rally, which took place outside the Queens Blvd.-theater, had been going to Center Cinemas for the past 40 years. They turned out in hope that it would not be demolished and some sort of agreement could be struck between the landlord/developer and the owner of the theater.
The cinema’s last day in operation is scheduled for Jan. 4 , and most believe that if John Ciafone, the landlord, and Rudy Prashad, the owner of the theater, can’t work out a deal by then the theater will be demolished to make way for a seven-story building.
“I grew up with this theater,” said Lisa Deller, a Sunnyside resident, who was at the rally. “I’ve been coming here for 40 years—since I moved to Sunnyside when I was 2 years old.”
Meanwhile, John Siscaretti, 51, who started the online petition to save the theater, went to the Center Cinemas when he was a young child. “My first movie here was Jungle Book,” he said.
The two organizers of the rally—Ty Sullivan and Pastor Jon Stork—made it clear from the get-go that the rally was not an anti-landlord event. However, both wanted to send Ciafone a clear message: Sunnyside is a tight-knit community and that it deserves to know what is going on.
Sullivan and Stork said they invited Ciafone to attend the rally and speak. They assured him that he would be made to feel welcome. He did not attend.
In related news, I got my hands on the renderings for what will replace it...