Welcome the first day of summer. Now that the days are long, sunny and bright, are you getting your tennis game on, dusting off your bikinis and changing your diet to light summer fare?

Equally important than wearing backless dresses and pulling out the shorty-shorts is getting out to vote. The New York primaries are being held Tuesday, June 28 and you must vote, vote, vote. Although each district has its own choice of candidates, here in the 17th Congressional District, it is important to vote for the candidate who will serve the district best. Who might that be? Think of the one with experience, who speaks the language spoken both in Albany and among the diverse community within the Congressional lines, who has been endorsed by those we learned to trust and admire, who has passed more legislation to protect the rights of seniors, the underrepresented and all citizens of New York City, not just the immediate surroundings. That’s who you should vote for. Need I say more?

One who always had something to say was our champ, Muhammad Ali. It was a great tribute to a man who spoke up for what he believed, felt and stood for at a time when it was unpopular for a Black man to do so. Among the many meaningful thoughts I have about Muhammad Ali, the one that comes to mind is a phrase from a song, “I took the blows and did it my way.”

My personal story of Muhammad Ali dates back awhile, and all has to do with a man named Donald DeWees. A popular figure around Harlem, DeWees was a successful real estate tycoon. His first property was a building located on 145th Street between Eighth and Bradhurst avenues, where on the first floor, he opened a bicycle shop. There, bike riders young and old would gather, and during the summer months, once a week, would ride to a local social club located in the Bronx, where there they would dance to the sounds of a local DJ, before heading back down to 145th Street. It was quite a sight to see a line of bikers riding single file through the streets, long before it became popular.

The next property DeWees bought was located on 118th Street at Eighth Avenue, and so arose the second bike shop. This shop is where all of the local youngsters were hired during the summer months to fix flats, take orders and basically learn the business. DeWees was all about kids and bikes. At the same time, Ali was on the rise; it was his heyday. Always brewing with ideas, DeWees not only connected the dots but also drew the dots and put them in the place where he wanted them to be connected. It was also around this time that real estate purchase number three took place. The address was 2018 Fifth Ave., and it came with a row of commercial stores around the corner at 1 W. 125th St., the corner one of which would become, you guessed it, a bicycle store, equipped with bikes for sale and all of the appropriate gear, and yes they still fixed flats.

Within months of opening the doors, the Harlem Bicycle Club was formed with his close companion, Kenyon “Big Chicken” O’Brien. Together they formed a team of some of the area’s amateur bicyclist. They trained hard and followed a strict regimen. The goal was to ride from 118th Street to Muhammad Ali’s training camp located in Allentown, Pa. Surely, DeWees thought, the Champ would be impressed to see the dedication of the riders and would agree to be the featured star of the Muhammad Ali Roast. DeWees was right. The Champ agreed, and so the making of one of Harlem’s biggest productions began. The Muhammad Ali Roast at the Apollo Theatre. Stars signed on to do the roasting and hosting, and it had all of the glamour and glitz of a Hollywood production.

DeWees passed on in December 2004 and now so has Muhammad Ali, but the memories will always live on.

Also living on is this year’s Conservatory Ball at the New York Botanical Garden, celebrating the Garden’s 125th Anniversary. This year’s theme was centered around the current exhibition, “Impressionism: American Gardens on Canvas,” which runs through Sept. 11 in the Conservatory. The Ball is considered the most glamorous party of the spring season and among the Garden’s most important fundraising events of the year. Although it was unfortunate that there wasn’t anyone there we know and love, proceeds from the evening help underwrite the Garden’s internationally acclaimed programs in children’s education, which serve more than 325,000 children and families in the tristate area, and botanical research programs, which influence conservation and climate change and biodiversity causes worldwide.

The Central Park Conservancy hosted its Playground Partners Annual Family Party in Central Park’s Heckscher Playground at 62nd Street. This event is the only event of the year held inside a Central Park playground, offering food, games, music and more. It raised more than $420,000. The event, sponsored by Goldman Sachs Gives, The Easton, a new development from Related, and Brooks Brothers, had more than 1,200 parents and children attend.

Here’s a bit of trivia. Did you know that the menu at the Four Seasons Restaurant, which will officially close July 16, changes according to the seasons? Hence the name Four Seasons. Do you care? Of course you do. You may not know a lot about everything, but you must know a little something about a variety of things. The whole design and concept of the restaurant was a huge undertaking. Nothing was left to chance and no stone left unturned. I don’t believe any other restaurant has the history and worldwide fame as the Four Seasons, unless your taking about Sylvia’s, which is what I’m talking about.

Until next week … kisses.