By Erin Pedrini
Web Production Assistant
Communications Coordinator for KaBOOM! Alyssa Ross said that the event came about when the NY/NJ Snowflake Youth Foundation, formed to raise excitement for Super Bowl XLVIII and raise money for regional charities and non-profits, partnered with KaBOOM! to build playgrounds in the New York and New Jersey areas.
“This was especially poignant because this region was also devastated by Hurricane Sandy. In the aftermath of natural disasters, play becomes even more critical because it creates a sense of normalcy and provides an emotional outlet for children,” Ross said.
She said that some of Moonachie’s parks were flooded under six feet of water and many residents still have not been able to return to their homes. KaBOOM! found the existing park on Concord Street and saw that it needed to be replaced and that is how the location was chosen, Ross said.
PSEG joined the project as a lead sponsor and donated nearly half of the funds needed. The Snowflake Youth Foundation, BD and United Water contributed a large amount as well, Ross said. She said that the Borough of Moonachie contributed 10 percent and that the investment from all of the contributors will serve the community for 15 to 20 years.
Sonja Clark, community relations director for United Water, said her company was the “water sponsor” and provided water for the volunteers and the water needed to mix the cement for the playground. United Water also provided the T-shirts for the event, as well as employees on prep day and volunteers for the event.Ellen Rafferty, manager of product donations and community relations at BD, got involved because, “the build was another way that BD could help a community recover from Hurricane Sandy.”
Clark, Ross and Rafferty all said that the event was successful.
“The 200 volunteers not only constructed a playground, they also built benches, planter boxes and picnic tables. Volunteers danced the ‘Cha Cha Slide’ on top of the mulch pile. The Moonachie EMS/Rescue Team sent six ambulances and an inflatable medical tent. Every restaurant in the borough contributed food for breakfast or lunch. Mayor Rick Vaccaro gave closing remarks to the tired, but energized crowd,” Ross said.
Rafferty said that the KaBOOM! team was very organized and the community showed strong support to keep the volunteers motivated.
“Knowing that our assistance and participation in this project would benefit the town, the residents, but most importantly the children, was ample reason for us to get involved,” Clark said.