From majestic music to inflatable fun, every face in Steppingstone Park sported a broad smile that reflected the festive environment. The Great Neck Park District was celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the opening of its park system.
Long ago, on Aug. 14, 1916, Great Neck residents Roswell and Louise Eldridge petitioned for a park district to preserve the natural landscape. With this opportunity, they transformed the land into a public park and beach that is now a second home to many families. Ever since, the Village Green has integrated the Great Neck community in its missions, programs and events.
The carnival commemorating the past 100 years began with Brady Rymer’s child-friendly musical performance, which was comprised of just the right amount of whimsicality and entertainment to spark the fun-filled afternoon. The avant-garde entertainer, who was nominated for two Grammy awards, said, “I feel honored to perform here today. It’s a beautiful setting, a beautiful venue. The people here put a lot of time and effort into making this happen, and I’m glad I could entertain so many families and children. Being here reminds me of what I love to do.”
The celebration continued with serenades from the Great Neck Chinese Association (GNCA), magician and mentalist Daniel Nicholas, the Fusion Marching Band and a Fleetwood Mac tribute band.
As for the GNCA performance, the audience was entranced by the cuteness of the chanting children and drummers. ChenXin Xu, choral director of the Great Neck Children’s Choir, remarked that the event was “fabulous and, well, hot. These performances are great for our children because, quite often, kids only get to watch the performances. Now they have the opportunity to perform themselves. Our community is all about reaching out and creating more opportunities for our children.”
Great Neck Park District Commissioner Daniel Nachmanoff appreciated the community’s contribution. “I would like to thank the Great Neck community for this collaborative effort,” said Nachmanoff. “There is so much going on at this event and it’s great to have these performers put on some great music. It helps create an environment where our children can flourish comfortably.”
This amicable sentiment was shared by families across all cultures as children gathered together to enjoy not only the music and magic, but also the plethora of fun and games—from water slides to an augmented version of Hungry Hungry Hippos called HippoChowDown.
Rubber dogs and sword balloons adorned the picnic areas, while people swarmed the food stations, which served all sorts of delicacies from Long Island lobster rolls to frozen yogurt.
Mentalist and magician Daniel Nicholas enjoyed performing at the event. “I’ve had a passion ever since I was 6 years old, and I’m very grateful to be performing for the residents of Great Neck,” said Nicholas. “I had fun and the kids had fun—even in the bloody heat.”
As hot as it was, everyone enjoyed the event. As they gazed out onto Long Island Sound, Great Neck residents were grateful for the vision of Roswell and Louise Eldridge, and look forward to continuing their tradition in our integrated community.