By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Sunset Park isn’t a foreign country, but you’ll enjoy it much more if you have a passport.
No, not a U.S. passport! What you’ll need to get a real sense of the place is the “Sunset Park Passport,” a mock-document that is being issued by the Sunset Park Business Improvement District (BID).
The passport, which is presented by the BID in cooperation with the Facebook page “Sunset Parker,” invites residents to reminisce about “true” Sunset Park icons.
On the third page of the 5.5 inch by 4.25 inch booklet, there is a list of two dozen bullet points that help the reader determine if you are from Sunset Park. For example: If you stood at the 36th Street subway station and had to decide between taking the local or the express, if you went to three block parties in one day or threw a gutter ball at Melody Lanes.
The checklist of “you might be from Sunset Park” includes: attending a church that holds services in more than one language, having a square slice of pizza at Johnny’s Pizzeria, or being stuck in traffic on the Gowanus Expressway.
The passport permits the holder to “travel anywhere within the borders of Sunset Park and partake in the goodwill and friendship of Sunset Parkers everywhere.”
Valdes said that passports are available for free of charge at the BID office at 5116-A Fifth Ave. In addition, 5,000 copies will be distributed at various Sunset Park events like the annual Street Festival and the Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony.
The BID represents hundreds of property owners and merchants on Fifth Avenue between 38th and 64th streets.
The passport was created in the interests of fun and civic pride, BID leaders said.
“Sunset Park is not a melting pot. We are a tossed salad,” said Tony Giordano, former president of Sunset Park Restoration, who created the passport. “We are delicious together, but if you pick around you can taste tomatoes, lettuce or onions. We don’t lose our flavor, but we blend together to create a distinct community of New York City.”
Two “pieces” of documentation are required to secure a Sunset Park Passport. A resident must have been born in a hospital serving Sunset Park, attended a Sunset Park school or be able to check off from a list of eleven unique Sunset Park experiences, including knowing what flan, dim sum or calzone are; or sat on a stoop and did nothing; or miss Woolworths.
On the back page of the passport is a history of Sunset Park.
In a recent ceremony at the office of the Sunset Park BID, President Delvis Valdes presented a passport to Fred Leopold-Hooke of the city’s Department of Small Business Services.
For more information about the Sunset Park Passport, call the Sunset Park BID at 718-439-7767.