Police Athletic League’s Christmas in Summertime at MCU Park

Coney kids play in MCU Park — and even meet Santa!

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Photo gallery

Hugs from Santa: From left, Sahara McNight, 11, Kanijah Carter, 9, Gabriel Luna, 5, and Xavier Hernandez, 8, hang out with Santa Claus at the event.
Weee: Coney Island tyke Makayla Tinsley, 4, runs under a parachute in the outfield of MCU Park.
Jumping through hoops: Coney Island youngster Aamari Marquez, 4, works her way through an obstacle course with the help of Police Athletic League staff member Corrlena McKelvey.
Parading with Santa: St. Nick came to visit hundreds of Coney Island kids early this year.
Sweet as candy: Canarsie resident Christella Jeamlouin, 15, enjoys some mouth-watering cotton candy.
Fancy face: Staten Island youngster Chloe Roberson, 12, got her face painted.

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.

Updated 10:13 pm, July 9, 2018
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