2013-06-21 / Community

Tiny Carnival Comes to Town

By Katie McFadden

The Rollicking Rockaways founder, Audrey Mattio poses with one of the carnival games. The Rollicking Rockaways founder, Audrey Mattio poses with one of the carnival games. “The Smallest Carnival on Earth” has come to Rockaway. Kids of all ages and adults who want to get in touch with their inner child are welcome to check out The Rollicking Rockaways, a mini-carnival that is designed to bring smiles back to residents after Hurricane Sandy.

Audrey Mattio, the founder of The Rollicking Rockaways, moved to Rockaway from France in August, two months before the storm. After Sandy hit, she wanted to find a way to help the community. “While we couldn’t provide the heavy machinery required to do much of the rebuilding, we could contribute by trying to bring some fun and light-heartedness back into the area, and give those impacted by the hurricane a smile or two,” she said. Mattio also wanted to bring residents a reminder of Playland.

With the help of Hana Gilbert and Bob Evans, Mattio decided to clean up her garage after Sandy and turn it into a fun space. She collected local materials after Sandy and recycled them, turning them into carnival games for residents to enjoy. The carnival has activities like Hole in One mini golf, a tic-tac-toe game called Bee Bee Bee, a dart game called Blow My Nose, a Birdy Ring Toss game, a pin-the-tail on the animal game and a can toss game called Miss Rockaway Dances the French Can Can. There is also an elephant wagon ride for kids. All of the games are free and there are even opportunities to earn prizes.

Hana Gilbert shows off the carnival front. Hana Gilbert shows off the carnival front. The carnival isn’t just limited to little ones. Mattio has noticed that adults often enjoy the games as well. “It’s interesting that adults find periods of play again and have fun and laugh and think of silly things which is useful when you have to think about rebuilding your house. Sometimes you just have to think of something silly to help you deal with the other stuff,” she said.

In addition to the carnival, Mattio plans to hold workshops from puppet and mask making for kids and adults, to a “discover your inner clown” workshop for adults only. She has signup sheets for these workshops at the carnival site.

The carnival opened on June 1st and Mattio plans to continue it throughout the summer. It is open, weather permitting, on Saturday from 1-6 p.m. at 151 Beach 91st Street.

The carnival isn’t the only project that Mattio is working on. She wants to pay tribute to Rockaway’s Playland and is planning an exhibit in September, in which she’ll have Playland memorabilia on display at the Surf Club on Beach 87th Street. Mattio is seeking the community’s help on this project. She’s asking for old photographs, postcards, souvenirs, tokens and tickets and any other items that people might have. She’s also looking for people to share their stories about their memories of Playland either through writing or by sharing their story in person. Mattio promises that the items will just be borrowed and returned after the exhibit. “I don’t want to own any of it. I just want to put this together and bring the community together to an event that they can contribute to,” she said. Audrey Mattio can be reached by emailing audreymattio@gmail.com or calling 718-308-7641.

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