Carousel on Staten Island plays host to a winter whirl of fun!
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STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The Carousel for All Children became a real-life Holiday Winter Wonderland Friday night with close to 1,000 children and adults dropping by to enjoy a ride on a choo-choo train, dueling snowmen, hot chocolate, pictures with Santa Claus and more.
Friday was the second day for the Holiday Winter Wonderland at Willowbrook Park. An estimated 1,000 people visited on Thursday evening and another 1,000 are expected to drop by on Saturday between 6 and 9 p.m., the last day of the event, said Cory Schifter, of Casale Jewelers, who along with Construct RELIEF, is sponsorsing the event.
“The kids have smiles on their faces — all excitement in their eyes. This is something we’ve never had on Staten Island,” he said. “We decided to take part in it and make it something special to do for years to come.”
And no wonder. The night was truly special for those in attendance. There was a choo-choo train for kids to ride. Making an exception to his normally dastardly ways, the Grinch stopped by to greet families.
There were, of course, rides on the carousel, fake snow (the real stuff was scheduled to arrive Saturday), snowmen, a creche, a light show and pictures with Santa Claus, all the fun illuminated by thousands of holiday lights.
While Schifter has held a holiday light show for the last three years at his Dongan Hills-based business, he decided this year to partner with Construct RELIEF and host it at the Carousel for the first time, because he believed it would be a perfect fit.
Proceeds will go to Construct RELIEF, whose mission has been helping Staten Island families rebuild their homes after Hurricane Sandy. Funds will also go to support Schifter’s efforts on behalf of the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation.
“We want to raise money for a great cause and do positive things for Staten Island, and we especially want to continue to provide Hurricane Sandy relief, which I feel is really needed,” said Schifter.
Children and adults pronounced themselves dazzled.
“It’s beautiful. It’s amazing,” said Nancy Zerega of Bulls Head with son, Matthew, 7, and daughter, Danielle, 3, in tow.
Rosemarie Vitale of Great Kills is a devoted grandmother. Even in the cold, she came out to be with her grandson, DeMarcus Smith-Davis, 5, and his mother, Gina Smith-Davis of Richmond.
“I love it. I love Christmas,” said Ms. Vitale. Ms. Smith-Davis said it’s great that the event supports good causes.
For DeMarcus, the fun was in riding the train, but he also enjoyed taking pictures with Dr. Seuss’ green-skinned bad guy because, he said simply: “I’m not afraid of the Grinch.”
The three-day event is expected to raise $25,000 for both causes. Schifter said. He promised the venue would be plowed and salted on Saturday.
The event’s main sponsor is HBO. There are 35 sponsors in all. Key among them are: Walsh Electric, Northfield Bank and Partners in Sound.