Nicole Roque, a professional Tutu and Costume Designer and mom of three girls is loving her life in Mount Vernon, NY. A Greenwich, CT native, Nicole talks to Suburbs 101 about her move to Mount Vernon and tells us why she loves living in Mount Vernon, NY.
Why did you move to Mount Vernon?
I moved to Mount Vernon in 2016 when my husband and I got married. He had already been living here, so it was an easy choice to join him!
Why do you like living in Mount Vernon? What part of Mount Vernon do you live in?
We live in the Fleetwood area of Mount Vernon. The location is walking distance to all the shops on Gramatan Avenue: a few “mom & pops” a diner, restaurants, a bakery, pharmacy, and Fleetwood train station. Our home sits on the edge of Hunts Woods which makes for a quiet backyard a little bit of privacy, too.
Did you know anyone when you moved to Mount Vernon? Any advice for newcomers on the best way to meet people?
Socially it was an easy transition when I moved to Mount Vernon because my husband was born and raised here and already had roots. His family has lived in Mount Vernon for over a century! I was welcomed warmly and it didn’t take long before I called Mount Vernon “home.” We are lucky to have great neighbors. The neighborhood is also attracting a few young families who are tired of living in New York City and want to raise their families in the suburbs.
Can you describe your social life?
Social life? Hmmmm. I’m not much help in this area! My social life consists of quick conversations with other parents at soccer games, basketball games, and dance class. When I have down time (which is rare and precious!), I prefer to spend it at home!
How old are your kids? Any sports programs or activities in the area that you can recommend?
I have three girls, ages 12, 11, and 9 years old. They participate in the local Mount Vernon rec soccer league, our parish’s CYO basketball program, and other school activities. Our neighborhood is great for bike riding, so you can find them zipping around the block in the summer months. We are also within walking distance of the Bronxville Library.
How would you describe Mount Vernon residents?
Mount Vernon residents have a spirit and loyalty to their city that I’ve never encountered before. They speak of their city with pride and passion. Many times you’ll find my husband at Mount Vernon High School catching a basketball game with his high school buddies, or grabbing a pie from Johnny’s Pizza.
What are your go-to places in Westchester or in Mount Vernon?
If you live in Westchester County and you don’t know about Johnny’s Pizza on Lincoln Avenue, then you’ve got some explaining to do. It’s legendary. Then there’s Fleetwood Pastry Shop on Gramatan Avenue and they serve all the Italian favorites, along with several flavors of Italian Ice. Retro 520 Diner is the local diner on the corner of Gramatan and Grand. It recently changed hands, but it is still casually referred to as “the Fleetwood Diner.”
Where do you go to stay fit?
I’m a road runner and there are plenty of great routes here in Fleetwood, and in the surrounding villages of Bronxville and Tuckahoe. If you keep you eyes open, you may see our local “joggler.” He jogs around the area juggling three balls while running. And if you’re really lucky, you’ll catch him juggling on his unicycle!
Have you read any good books lately? Any book recommendations?
I’ve just finished (for a second time!) 12 Rules for Life by Dr. Jordan Peterson. I also like to read essays by Dr. Thomas Sowell. And I am currently reading The CEO’s Secret Weapon by Jan Jones. In addition to my costuming business, I am an Executive Assistant to a CEO.
What are some things you don’t like about Mount Vernon?
What’s not to like??? But, seriously. We have had an interesting history at City Hall with some shaky leadership. But honestly, name one city that doesn’t have political woes…
What has your experience been with Mount Vernon schools? Public Schools? Private schools?
Our local Mount Vernon public school is right at the end of our street. It’s a K-8 school and has a strong Pre-K program as well. Mount Vernon schools have struggled in past years, but the district has new leadership and the program is making great strides. There are now three high schools, two of which are new specialized schools: one for Visual and Performing Arts, and one is a STEAM Academy.
If you prefer to go the private school route there are several schools close by. My daughters all go to Immaculate Conception School in Tuckahoe, which is less than a mile away. The Chapel School and St. Joseph’s School are also good options, both in nearby Bronxville.
Do you or your husband take the Metro North to New York City? What has your experience been with the commute?
My husband and I both commute to Manhattan from Mount Vernon. If we catch an express, the train ride is 27 minutes to Grand Central from the Fleetwood Metro-North train station. He has a parking permit sticker for the municipal lot, and I just pay the meter when I go in. I’m not sure how long the waitlist is to get a parking permit sticker, but it’s got to be at least a few years wait. So I just park at the meter and always get a spot when I catch my 8:05 a.m. train (which goes directly from Fleetwood to Grand Central! Best kept secret on the Metro-North Harlem line!!)
Any advice you can give to someone looking to move to Mount Vernon?
Yes! Mount Vernon gives you a quick commute to Manhattan, shops and restaurants within walking distance, easy access to the Sprain Brook Parkway, Bronx River Parkway, and Cross County Parkway, and let’s be honest, lower property taxes than other Westchester cities and villages.
You are a professional Tutu and Costume Designer. Tell me more about it
I’ve been sewing since high school, and sort of fell into this role once my middle child began taking ballet lessons. I was classically trained in ballet and already familiar with the culture and costumes. The costume construction for ballet is so specialized that I had to find tutu-making seminars (yes! They exist!) in order to improve my craft.
I have worked mostly with local pre-professional ballet students and make their costumes for Youth America Grand Prix and other dance competitions. I also am the resident costume mistress for New England Academy of Dance in New Canaan, and work with Greenwich Ballet Academy, Norwalk Metropolitan Youth Ballet, and most recently, French-American Ballet Theatre in Hawthorne. I also have one client who is a professional ballerina, and several long-distance clients in Florida and Nebraska. And I have dipped my toe into the figure skating world, which I love! So many rhinestones…
About Nicole Roque
Nicole Roque grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut and has a background in classical ballet. She was a student with the Connecticut Ballet, The Ballet Class in Rye, New York, and also attended a summer intensive with the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.
After graduating from Duquesne University, she joined the United States Air Force as a 2nd Lieutenant and was stationed overseas at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
Nicole took her first sewing class at Greenwich High School, Greenwich, CT and what was once a hobby, is now her passion. After taking design, patternmaking, and color theory classes at the Art Institute of New York City, Nicole has come full-circle and answered her calling to classical ballet. Nicole’s Website: madebynicoleelaine.net Instagram: @madebynicoleelaine
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Suburbs 101 is an online lifestyle guide for the New York Suburbs of Westchester County, Long Island, Fairfield County and Northern New Jersey. Get the inside scoop on what it’s really like to live in the New York suburbs through our interviews with local suburbanites and features on Food, Fashion, Home, Travel, and Local Events. Be sure to Follow Us on Instagram, Like Us on Facebook and subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter.