Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Events We Love: Summerstage Kids Presented by Disney

If you live in the New York City area, you already know that this city offers an amazing array of free events and performances designed for kids, and few are on the level of Summerstage Kids Presented by Disney, part of the City Parks Foundation Summer Stage series. These events are presented at parks around the city and offer a wide variety of fun and games along with top-notch performers, all presented in the spirit that this is for kids. No silence is required here. In fact, performers encourage enthusiasm and participation from the junior audience members.

Performers with the NY Chinese Cultural Center
At the event I attended with my little girl on July 8th in Central Park, activities included photo ops with a real-live Jake from Jake and the Never Land Pirates; free swag like pirate kerchiefs (in pink for the gals, even), fans (great for the warm weather), games, face-painting, temporary tattoos, acrobats, food, games, prizes (I’m getting a bit worn out writing here) and THEN a show. My little girl was even approached to be interviewed on-camera for a Disney Junior promo. As a proud mom, I was jumping out of my skin. But as they say of great racehorses, she came up shy and didn’t want to talk to the camera, which I figure is always about a 50% probability. I said to myself (as any pirate would) arrghhh. Better luck next time.

Dancers with Ill Style & Peace
Dancers from the New York Chinese Cultural Center followed by the hip-hop dance group Ill Style & Peace Productions got the kids up on their feet, even coming down from the stage and dancing among the kids. It was thrilling, and very much keeping in the spirit of the day—that this is about having fun. Headliners Jake and the Never Land Pirate Band—better known to preschoolers as Sharky and Bones performed next. The kids went wild when they came out. And Sharky and Bones kicked some pirate booty.

Hendrickson (left) and Hoskins
Here’s a trick question: which came first—the show, Jake and the Never Land Pirates or the band from Jake and the Never Land Pirates? Answer: the band. Duo Loren Hoskins and Kevin Hendrickson have been making music together as pirate rockers since 1999. These guys are the real deal, rockers for the preschool set with humor and snap (and a boat-load of talent). These guys bring MUCH joy. I don’t need to ask them what’s in it for them. The love was palpable. They perform an original song at the end of every episode of Jake and the Never Land Pirates as well as appearing as animated characters on the show. Hoskins and Hendrickson really do embody that combination of talent, commitment, and fun that puts them at the top of the heap of live-action kid’s performers.

You have two more chances to get in on the fun at a Summerstage Kids event. Queens Family Day will take place in Queens at Springfield Park on July 29th from 4 to 7 pm; and Uptown Family Day will be held at Marcus Garvey Park on August 12th from 4 to 7 pm. You can get more information at the City Parks Foundation website. And even though my little girl wouldn’t say it on camera, she had a blast at Summerstage Kids. I’ll let you know when she finally takes off her pirate kerchief.

All photos taken with permission. ©Maggie Hames 2012

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