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Mr. and Mrs. Met help put smiles on faces of Flushing YMCA summer campers

Mrs. and Mr. Met pose for a photo with the Flushing YMCA summer campers. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

Fifty summer campers of the Flushing YMCA spent an hour of fun and games with Mr. and Mrs. Met, the official mascots of the New York Mets, on Tuesday, July 27.

The YMCA of Greater New York invited the bubbly couple as a ‘”thank you” after the Amazin’ Mets Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the New York Mets, donated a generous amount to the Flushing YMCA, which helped send children between the ages of 4 to 14 to summer camp this year.

“The Amazin’ Mets Foundation is proud to support the Flushing Y Summer Day Camp,” the foundation said in a statement. “We want as many children as possible to enjoy the great camp activities that are offered by the talented YMCA staff.”

Happy faces were all around when Mr. and Mrs. Met entered the parking lot, cheerfully waving at and greeting the young people. During the visit, the youngsters received assistance from Mr. Met practicing their batting skills at the inflatable home run baseball game and got rid of some of their abundant energy by jumping in the inflatable Mets bounce house.

Mr. Met looks on as a YMCA summer camper practices his batting skills. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)
Mr. Met watches a young YMCA summer camper practicing his batting skills. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

Tiffany Dunbar, executive director of the Flushing YMCA, said it was great having the Y full of children, laughter and activities again.

“It’s been very, very nice to have after this past year and a half,” Dunbar said. “We are focusing on fun this summer.”

So far, some of the summer fun activities have included soccer matches, a petting zoo and a pony ride on the large parking lot behind the building, which has been cleared to entertain the kids.

“One of the ponies had rainbow-colored hair, and [the kids] called it a unicorn. The unicorn just hadn’t sprouted its horn yet,” Dunbar said about the past pony ride adventure. “You could even see their smiles through their face masks, so it’s been great.”

Eight-year-old Nina van Snellenberg said, “it’s great to see Mr. and Mrs. Met visiting the YMCA.”

Van Snellenberg, who is looking forward to third grade, explained it was her first time attending the YMCA summer camp and shared that she loved the science aspect of the camp.

Mrs. Met receives a present from a Flushing YMCA summer camper. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

“But what I like most of that is that the halls are wide enough for me to scream ‘sunshine lollipops,’ and it echoes in the hallways,” she said, before heading off to a photo-op with the Mets mascots.

The benevolent mascots also handed out hats, gloves and a teddy bear to the young people.

Frankie Carlucci, senior director of Youth and Family of the Flushing YMCA, explained that because of the donation, kids could attend the camp for free or on a 90 percent scholarship.

“Especially at a time like this year when a lot of parents couldn’t afford summer camp or are on unemployment, with the donation we’re able to send all these kids to camp,” Carlucci said.

Carlucci said the program is filled with science, arts and swimming lessons and prepares the kids for the new school year in the fall.

Mr. Met assists a young YMCA summer camper with his batting practice. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

“A lot of them haven’t been in school for 12 to 15 months,” Carlucci said. “So it’s really bridging that gap, you know, getting them ready to go back to school.”

Damian Viloasanti, 13, admitted that he didn’t think that the Y camp was “going to be that great” when he started but that he now enjoyed all the activities the camp offered.

When asked what his favorite part of the YMCA camp was, the soon-to-be eighth-grader excitedly said, “Water day activities in the summer camp.”

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