Photo Credit: Emes Production Photography

The line began forming well before the announced 11:30 a.m. registration start time for the COJO Flatbush Chol HaMoed Family Fun Extravaganza. (In fact, due to the large number of early arrivals, the decision was made to begin registration at 11.)





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Excited children – along with parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts – made their way forward until they reached the welcome station and suddenly it seemed, as COJO Flatbush CEO Louis Welz likes to describe it, as if “someone threw a switch making a nondescript city block instantly come alive with the sights and sounds of an old-fashioned country carnival.”

Sponsored by Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein, along with Citizens Bank, the Extravaganza was held on the first day of Chol HaMoed Pesach, which turned out to be the perfect day for outdoor fun – clear and sunny with a cool breeze.



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Just a partial list of the event’s many rides and attractions: several Moonwalks – including a large Circus Clown Moonwalk that welcomed attendees as they entered the Extravaganza – bumper cars and Bungee jumping and a Choo-Choo train and a Round Up Spinner and a Flying Dragon and a Great Slide and a Meltdown and a Dixie Twister; two rock-climbing walls – one called Klime Wallz, known for its pop art design and geometric shapes, and another crowd favorite provided and operated by the NYPD, which also brought in its famed Game Truck, a traveling arcade that allows cops and kids to connect while playing games. There were horse and pony rides, a monkey show, and a petting zoo; magicians, musicians, interactive performances, and a live concert by singing sensations Uri Davidi, Rabbi Shloime Taussig, and Nechemia Katz; and – because what would a carnival be without them? – balloons, cotton candy, and fruit and drinks. And the jam-packed five-hour Extravaganza was completely free, with all of it taking place against a constant soundtrack of lively Jewish music.

For COJO Flatbush CEO Louis Welz, it was the smiles on the faces of the more than 10,000 children and adults who turned out for the Extravaganza that made it worth all the effort. “If you lined up all those smiles,” he said, “they would easily have extended end-to-end on East 17th Street from Avenue M to Avenue L and back again, not once but many times over.”




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Welz praised Assemblyman Eichenstein for doing whatever he could to secure funding needed to ensure the Extravaganza’s success. “Simcha will move mountains if doing so will make things better for an individual or a family or the community at large,” said Welz. “It’s a tremendous comfort for an agency like COJO Flatbush to know someone like Simcha is always there to listen, to advise, and to assist.

“I’ve said to him privately and am always glad to repeat it publicly: Thank you, Simcha, for bringing simcha –happiness – to so many people.”

Welz and COJO Social Services Director Shulamis Shapiro expressed thanks to the NYPD’s 70th Precinct for providing security for the event from beginning to end, and to DSNY Brooklyn District 14 Superintendent Robert McKenna for “always seeing to it that everything is properly taken care of.”



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In the end, said Shapiro, “It all comes down to doing everything in our power to help the community – in this case, putting on a family event for which parents, especially in these challenging economic times, don’t have to dig even deeper into their pockets or add to their credit card debt in order to give their families a joyful and memorable experience.”

The Extravaganza, she added, “is a natural part of our commitment to communal service. An event like this brings the families of our community so much happiness – without any worries about the cost of an afternoon filled with entertainment and with the convenience of being smack in the middle of their own neighborhood, sparing them a long Chol HaMoed schlep.”

COJO Flatbush: Help Starts Here!

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Jason Maoz served as Senior Editor of The Jewish Press from 2001-2018. Presently he is Communications Coordinator at COJO Flatbush.