Hundreds of kids enjoy day off from school at McGolrick Park

June 9, 2017 By Paul Frangipane Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Musical group, Astrograss plays in front of singing and dancing children and an audience of parents. Eagle photos by Paul Frangipane
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Hundreds of little kids ran around, climbed trees, danced and waited in line to be painted up like an animal or character of their choosing in the middle of the day on Thursday in McGolrick Park in Greenpoint.

The Greenpoint Gazette and the Newtown Creek Superfund Site sponsored “School’s Out!” on June 8, an event to celebrate community on an obscure holiday, organized by the McGolrick Park Neighborhood Alliance.

“Anniversary Day” or “Brooklyn-Queens Day,” originated as a Protestant Holiday commemorating the founding of the First Sunday School on Long Island. A parade was held in celebration in Brooklyn in June 1829. Now, kids across New York City have the day off from school the first Thursday of June each year.

“We like to offer something to our park-goers. We know that our parks are great and we love them, but we also have very few of them and we like to add a little value,” Konstancja Maleszynska of the McGolrick Park Neighborhood Alliance said.

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McGolrick Park, although originally called Winthrop Park, named after Assemblyman Winthrop Jones in 1891, was renamed after Monsignor Edward McGolrick, the longtime pastor of nearby St. Cecilia’s Roman Catholic Church in 1941.

Carrying on the legacy in 2017, smiling parents brought their excited children to the park to play with other children and engage in activities provided by various groups.

Maleszynska, who helped organize the event, said that the Alliance brought in the different activities so that the kids can learn what’s in the park they interact with.

The most popular attractions were Sing LIC and Astrograss, two musical performances, and of course face painting, which sported a line across the park.

With Sing LIC, a choir of proud girls dressed in blue sang in front of their relatives and community.

Astrograss brought a taste of flavor from the Midwest, playing Woody Guthrie’s, This Land is Your Land, briefly stopping at one point as the crowd of children and parents sang along.

The walkways nearby were decorated with colorful drawings from kids that made the sidewalk chalk themselves with a little help from Eckford Studios, a neighborhood art studio.

At another table, kids were scooping up soil to grow their own flowers.

“The kids are potting up nasturtium seeds,” George Pisegna of the Horticultural Society of New York said. “Nasturtiums are part of an edible flower…so the kids are taking home their own nasturtium seeds to plant and grow and eat.”

On what could have been a slow day for the park, “School’s Out!” with some help from “Brooklyn-Queens Day,” brought enthusiastic crowds to the tree-framed spit of grass in North Brooklyn.

“We hope that the parents and the kids want to come back and help us volunteer in the park,” Maleszynska said.

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