Play time is paint time for Bay Ridge kids
Children fix hopscotch board in Russell Pedersen Park
John Quaglione was walking through Russell Pedersen Playground in Bay Ridge with his 4-year-old daughter Natalie on a summer afternoon when Natalie noticed something that bothered her. “The hopscotch board was all worn out. You couldn’t even see the numbers. There was no way kids could play on it,” John Quaglione told the Brooklyn Eagle.
A few minutes later, little Natalie was playing on the slide when she told her father, who works as deputy chief of staff to state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn), that she thought it was bad that children couldn’t play hopscotch because of the sorry condition of the board.
She also asked her father if he could call “your friend” in the Parks Department to get it repaired.
Named in memory of a Bay Ridge man who was killed in the Vietnam War, Russell Pedersen Park is located on Colonial Road and 83rd Street.
When Quaglione reached out to Patti Gracia, a Parks Department official assigned to the Community Board 10 area of Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights, he learned out that he could repaint the hopscotch board himself.
“I thought it would be a good civics lesson for Natalie so I had her repaint the board,” he told the Eagle. Natalie had a helper, her cousin Sophia Giannone. The two little girls got to work under adult supervision and the job was done in a matter of hours.
Quaglione was joined by his wife Kerry and his sister Lauren Giannone, Sophia’s mom.
“I really want to thank Patti Gracia and her team here in Parks District 10, and commend them for this unique opportunity for a civics lesson for both my daughter and niece. What a great way for a child spend a day off from school, getting involved in beautifying the park where you so many times swing, slide and play.”
Natalie and Sophia were presented with certificates for their work by the Parks Department.
Natalie, who turns 5 on Oct. 19, has been bitten by the civic activism bug at an early age. “I’m glad she is seeing that you can do something to make your neighborhood a better place to live,” her father said.
Quaglione was 12 when he got his first task of volunteerism. “I was a member of the BRAVO Youth Squad and we used to go to street fairs and take people’s blood pressure,” he said. BRAVO stands for Bay Ridge Ambulance Volunteer Organization. “We also used to paint the bus stops and fire hydrants on Fifth Avenue. That’s how I first met Marty Golden,” Quaglione recalled.
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