Fun Fest

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:51

    MONROE-The annual Halloween Fun Fest at Smith's Clove Park in Monroe Saturday brought out the kid in the kids and the kid in the parents. The Fun Fest, which is funded by the Monroe Joint Parks and Recreation Commission, featured free pumpkin picking, pumpkin painting, hay rides, a magic show and a costume walk and contest. But it also allow some parents to recall what it was like to be as old - or as young - as their own children on Halloween. And that said as much about where they grew up as it did about where they live today. "I grew up in Mill Basin, Brooklyn and remember bobbing for apples, and how everybody had a homemade costume on," said M.J. Goff, the park's activities director who organized the event. "Back then, nobody had store-bought costumes like today," Goff, dressed as a bug lady, added. "After school ended, we would get into groups and go trick or treating block by block and left no house untouched. We would throw a bag of chalk in front of the house so we know that we had gone there." She acknowledged that the purpose of an event like Fun Fest is to provide simple memories for parents and children at no cost. "We try to make sure the event is not overwhelming like a theme park," she said, "but at the same time, allow children and their parents to spend time together in a world that is not as carefree as it used to be." The event also brought out volunteers from local schools and churches, like 13-year-old Dan Bravnagel of Monroe who manned the many Halloween-oriented games for the children to play. "We are helping out by giving out candy if the kid's win," the Monroe-Woodbury Middle School student said, "and telling them about the activities and games." One game that seemed to be a favorite required the kids to stuck their hand into the Monster box to guess what was inside. If they guessed correctly, they would win candy ... as if they needed more of that stuff dentists just love when kids eat. Throughout the afternoon, parents and children picked pumpkins from a mini-pumpkin patch and then brought them to little tables, where they painted and carved the orange gourds. Tara Stenson of Harriman and her 8-year old son, Matthew, a student at Pine Tree Elementary, both worked together on their pumpkin art. "I love it," Stenson said. "It's great for the kids, the hay rides, games and pumpkin picking." When asked what made him want to be Tigger for Halloween, Matthew replied simply: "I like Tigger." Moments later, as the two ran to go catch the next hay ride, Stenson said something many parents that day were thinking, "I would love to be a kid again; it's great!" Throughout the day, parents continued having just as much fun as they laughed with their incognito, costume-wearing children. There Spidermen, Tiggers, NYPD officers, soldiers, Batmen, Barbies, Power Rangers and witches. These were, of course, the children who believed they truly were the characters they were dressed up to be. Some parents looked jealous. As Monique Davisberg rode the hay ride with daughters, Hailey, 5, and Paige, 2, her husband Adam told of growing up in the Howard Beach section of Queens. He remembers getting bags and bags of candy throughout the neighborhood with his friends. Back then, he said, there was not as much worry as there is today concerning tainted candy. Davisberg acknowledged that it has gotten better over the last few years and people have begun to get more into the Halloween spirit again. That included taking his children trick or treating."Yes, definitely, oh yeah, the kids love it, they love going out and I love taking them," Davisberg said. "I love to see how happy they are. "We didn't have the troubles children face today when I was a kid," he continued. "Today kids are growing up a lot faster because of the world around them." The father, holding one of his daughter's witch hats in his hand, then added, "When I was a kid, I always wanted to be older than I was, but now after seeing what growing up really is, I want to be a kid again. It's sad to grow up, I wish I was a kid, but now I live through my kids and how much fun they're having." From the start of the event to the end, parents, despite the chill in the air, were seemed to be having as much fun as their pint-size counterparts. Several fathers were seen "sneaking" some candy and could not resist sucking on a Tootsie Pop. Inside the recreation hall, free drink, snacks and hotdogs were provided to every one from the 10-year-old kids to the 35 year-old kids who felt like they were still, "Jimmy" and "Sue" on the old block. Bonding is the very reason why Lorraine Kelly sais she brought her son, Brian, 7, and nephew, Jason Cella, 8, to the Fun Fest. "I grew up in Manhattan and remember Halloween decorations, and parties, although we didn't do much trick-or-treating in Manhattan." Even though the Monroe mother doesn't have experience or know "the art of how to get a lot of candy," she planned on getting some training from her son when he takes her trick-or-treating door to door for candy. "All the time, I didn't understand the value of being a child," Kelly said. "I was always trying to be older for respect, and I didn't appreciate being a child, but it's too late. Now, it's all about making memories with my son, so maybe he will remember this one day when he takes his kids to a Halloween event like this." During the best-costume contest, one winner, a soldier dressed in a homemade costume who was no older than three years old, ran into his father's arms after he won. They smiled together as though they won a million dollars. As he waited for a hayride, Chris Fico of Monroe talked about growing up in the Marine Park section of Brooklyn and talked about his 4- and 8-year-old daughters. "I brought my daughters, Kassidy and Katie to make memories," the 38 year-old father said. Later, as the magic show was announced to begin, parents held hands with each other as they walked to the pavilion. They sat and laughed with their children at the ability of this magician. Fico's daughter, Kassidy, was called up on the stage to participate in a trick. His face lit up when his youngest daughter magically pulled an American flag out of a hat. The audience clapped. A memory for life was created. At one point in the magic show, the magician told the children, "I am now going to pick the kid smiling most for the next trick." If parents would have been included, there would have been stiff competition. For three hours on afternoon, they were kids again.