Having not grown up in Brooklyn and having a daughter who just this year started kindergarten I was unfamiliar with Brooklyn-Queens day. As in I had never even heard of it before. However if you live in Brooklyn or Queens then your kids are lucky enough to be off of school today for no other reason than the fact that they actually live in Brooklyn or Queens. No such luck for kids that live in Manhattan, The Bronx and Staten Island who are all in school as usual today.

What is Brooklyn-Queens day anyway? That seems to be the million dollar question because not many people seem to even realize the origin of this geographically specific holiday. Originally it was just a Brooklyn holiday but somewhere along the way Queens glommed on and started taking the day off too.

Robert Riccobono, a former school district superintendent in the East New York section of Brooklyn who grew up in Queens, said he always reveled in Brooklyn-Queens Day. He added, though, that he had no idea what it was about.

“No one in all those years, from when I was a school kid right up until I was a superintendent, had any idea of what it was other than a day off that we loved,” Mr. Riccobono said. “No one every tried to explain it to us.”

It started back in 1905 when the State Legislature passed a law making the first Thursday in June a holiday for public schools in Brooklyn to celebrate “the founding of the Sunday school movement in Brooklyn.”

Deputy Mayor Dennis M. Walcott said the day commemorated the founding of the Brooklyn Sunday School Union Society, to be exact — a Protestant group that led a parade of Sunday school students through Brooklyn every spring starting in the early 1800’s. In 1959, the Legislature extended the holiday to Queens, where Sunday school students also had begun annual parades. [NYT]

As far back as 2003 some of Mayor Bloomberg’s education people were considering trying to take the holiday away or at least force kids to do something educational with their day off. Eleven years later and it doesn’t seem like Brooklyn-Queens day is going anywhere as kids all over the two boroughs are enjoying their day off while the rest of the city is slaving away in the classroom.

Posted by James Poling

A socialist, tinkerer, thinker, question asker and all around curiosity seeker. If you'd like to reach me you can use the contact link above or email me at jamespoling [at] gmail [dot] com.

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