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Photo courtesy of the office of Tony Avella
State Sen. Tony Avella was jus one of many advocates hoping for the return of Mr. Eric’s Toddler Time at Bowne Park.
By Mark Hallum

Parents who take their children to Bowne Park Field House for entertainment at a beloved toddler program known as Mr. Eric, led by Eric Friedman, will resume in September after the city Department. of Parks and Recreation nearly terminated the program.

Mr. Eric’s Toddler Time was originally set to return to Bowne Park after renovations were complete on the playground and field house until Parks informed state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) that northeast Queens parents would have to travel to Kissena Park for the program.

“Bowne Park is a gem in North Flushing and the programming offered at the field house has been a treasured community resource for kids and parents alike. The passion and support expressed by the parents could not go unheard and I’m thankful that the Parks Department will be reinstating this vital program,” said Vallone. “Mr. Eric is here to stay and the children and families of North Flushing will be able to enjoy the program for years to come.”

Vallone said his office will be allocating funds for a programs called “Kids in Motion” in which a Parks employee will oversee seven hours of organized sports, games, fitness demos, board games and water games.

“The updates to Bowne Playground have made it one of the coolest places to play – and now this summer, thanks to Council member Vallone, it will be staffed with a Parkie, who is dedicated to keeping all of the local kids active and having fun!”Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said.

This new program, confirmed by Parks, will run from the time the new staffer starts July 5 to Sept. 1, Tuesday through Saturday between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

“I want to thank DPR for listening to the concerns of the community and doing the right thing by returning Mr. Eric’s Toddler Time to Bowne Park in the fall,” Avella said. “It goes to show you the power of the people having a say about what goes on in their community. The Families for Bowne Park Association did a wonderful job organizing and it goes to show you that the one thing the city cannot fight is mothers and their kids.”

Avella said his office issued “many letters over many months” to speak with Lewandowski, who told him the program would be returning after all.

“We’re not politicians, we’re moms, and we come to this park and want the best for our kids,” said Tamar Chicavich, Families for Bowne Park Association.

A Parks Department spokeswoman said the program was initially moved on account of the availability of indoor space, which was under renovation at Bowne Park.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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