Christmas came early at MCU Park on Aug. 9 for hundreds of Coney Island children affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Last year’s holiday season was a difficult time for many Coney Island families still feeling the devastating affects of Sandy, but on Friday, approximately 200 Brooklyn youngsters were treated to a Christmas in Summertime party featuring recreational activities and a carnival. The Police Athletic League, a youth development agency, worked with the Brooklyn Cyclones and Lend Lease, an international property and infrastructure company, to get the event off the ground.
“All season long we try to do things that can help people’s lives return to normal,” said Cyclones spokesman Billy Harner. “It was a little odd to see Santa Claus in August, but the kids seemed to have a great time with it.”
The day began on MCU Park’s ball field. The children — between the ages of 3 and 16 — played kickball on the baseball diamond, participate in an obstacle course, and brushed up on their soccer skills with coaches from the Police Athletic League’s soccer club before they headed to a carnival in the stadium’s parking lot. The celebration included carnival games, a barbecue, a free raffle to win tickets to Coney Island attractions such as a Cyclones games, Luna Park, and the New York Aquarium, a dunk tank, a bounce house, and even a visit from Santa Claus, plus other entertainment. All of the children were sent home with a backpacks stuffed with school supplies and other small treats.
The Police Athletic League held a series of recreation-focused events as part of its Playstreets program at Coney Island’s Shrine Church of Our Lady of Solace and Kaiser Park in November and December. These events were intended to give families in the community a chance to socialize and step away from the stress of recovery efforts. Friday’s festivities were a long-awaited follow-up.
“We want the kids in the community to know that the Police Athletic League is still there for them and that they won’t be forgotten,” said Police Athletic League Executive Director Alana Sweeney.