If you notice a lot more kids out on the streets today, it’s because public schools are closed for “Chancellor’s Conference Day,” a way to include all five boroughs in what used to be the annual Brooklyn-Queens Day—the city’s silliest holiday, beloved by school children citywide. Though it’s now a secular celebration, BQD, or “Anniversary Day,” began as a commemoration of the establishment of the boroughs’ first Sunday schools; according to “an 1893 account, schoolchildren were expected to say ‘Christian things’ about their teachers,” the Queens Gazette once explained.
The first parade was held in 1829; schools were officially closed in honor of the day by an act of the state legislature in 1959. In 2005, the UFT signed a new contract with the city that made Brooklyn-Queens Day a citywide holiday; kids are off, while teachers go in for professional development.
“My dollbabies will undoubtedly be celebrating by sleeping late; catching up on Degrassi, Maury Povich, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare; and, I hope to God, finishing their social studies exit projects,” one teacher tells Gothamist. “Somehow I doubt that any of them will be commemorating the vital role that Sunday School, Brooklyn, or Queens has played in their lives. I suppose that’s all right. If I were at home, I probably wouldn’t be doing any of those things either.”
Last year on Brooklyn-Queens Day, one teenager was killed and four other people hospitalized when a gun fight broke out in Brighton Beach.
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