Astoria Characters: The Puppet Masters

There’s a lot going on. The pet rats, Softee and Gray Spot Star Sword, are climbing their cage. The children, 5-year-old Leif and 3-year-old Finn, are tucked into a corner hovering over a smartphone. The adults, Chad Williams and Lindsey “Z” Briggs, are playing with puppets. Z literally has her hands full with Grandma Ellie and Grandma Nancy, while Chad is armed with Mystery Max and Finn the Fox. The husband-and-wife duo make funny faces and say silly stuff. They’ve…

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Astoria Characters: The Soccer Star

The first time New York Cosmos defender Jonathan Borrajo kicked a soccer ball, it was down the hall of his apartment. “I was 2,” he says, smiling at the memory. “My father told me, ‘Don’t let the ball hit the walls.’ That’s how I learned precision.” The connection went from his foot straight to his heart, where it has remained for the last 29 years. “Soccer’s in my blood,” he says. “My father, who is from Spain, loves soccer – he even got a college scholarship…

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Astoria Characters: The Sisters Who Are Raising Astoria

Perhaps it’s because they have young children. Maybe it’s due to the fact that they had so much fun growing up. Or it could be that they just love being around kids. Then, again, it’s likely to be a combination of factors that have led Eleni Graciano and Thekla Manoloudis to devote themselves to Raising Astoria, the children’s educational center and play space they bought a little more than two years ago. Eleni and Thekla, who are sisters, never dreamed that they would own a business…

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Astoria Characters: The Undecided Dancer

Rachel Baird is used to taking things in steps. She is, after all, a dancer. But she’s at a crossroads, and it’s her heart, not her feet, that she’s counting on this time to lead her in the right direction. Rachel, who is from a town too tiny to mention in Norfolk County in Ontario, Canada, has a career choice to make. And she doesn’t have much time to come to a decision. She’s been living in New York City under an artist visa, and it’s time to renew. Doing so could…

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Astoria Characters: The Special Teacher

Growing up, Nicholas Alexandrakos was always interested in his family’s history. With grandparents from Greece and Italy who spoke their native languages at home, how could he not be? “So much of my upbringing was talking about foreign lands I’d never been to,” he says. “When we celebrated the holidays, everyone talked about how it was done in the old country.” That’s why he changed his last name. Alexander, not Alexandrakos, was the one bestowed upon him when he…

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