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'Passport' Launched to Connect Sunset Park Residents to Area's History

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A campaign in one Brooklyn neighborhood helps residents re-live childhood memories and stay connected to the community. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.

From Chinese to Mexican, from Cuban to Puerto Rican, Fifth Avenue is an international corridor in the heart of Sunset Park.

"If New York City was a melting pot, then Sunset Park was a table where the different ingredients were created," said Renee Giordano of the Sunset Park Business Improvement District.

Now, the community has a passport to celebrate that diversity and connect residents to its history. The Sunset Park Business Improvement District is distributing mock passports that promote "the goodwill and friendship of Sunset Parkers everywhere." They include check-off lists of neighborhood staples like Georges Diner and Johnny's Pizzeria, and throwbacks like the old 5 and 10, Woolworth's.

"I miss going to Woolworth. Wow," said one person. "Woolworth was on 53rd Street and Fifth Avenue. This is great."

"The movie theater that's now a church, I used to go there all the time. The Coliseum," said another.

"I've also had a square from Johnny's, which is well known in the neighborhood for years," said a third.

"My husband got caught doing this, riding on Fifth Avenue in the Puerto Rican Day Parade, and he got in trouble," said a fourth.

The passport project was launched based on a Facebook page called Sunset Parker, which started this year and connected hundreds of past and present residents. As you might expect, a focus for both is the park that gave the neighborhood its name.

"I have seen plenty of sunsets. They are beautiful," said one person.

The BID said that keeping residents connected to the neighborhood keeps them shopping here.

In addition to the passport, another BID initiative is to install Wi-Fi along the commercial strip.

Residents said it's the emotional connection that keeps the neighborhood thriving.

"I actually lived 48 years in Sunset Park," said one person. "I came as a young Hispanic in 1966."

"I'm a proud Sunset Parker," said another. "I talk about is all the time. I take pride in it."

"I'm glad I never left because it's one of the best things we ever did," said a third.

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