Horse hooves clunked the paths of the Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park in Oyster Bay on Sunday, as it pulled a carriage with children and their parents for the annual Mardi Gras Gala.
The event for the most part was indoors, with games and shows for families, but many people spent a lot of their time outdoors. It may not have been a normal day to go to the park with the chilled February air, but it was not evident there.
“It’s a great way to get people in the parks in the winter,” said Vincent Simeone, park manager of the arboretum.
Some children ran around the fields in their coats and scarves, while others walked through the greenhouses filled with tropical plants that survived the winter weather because of the warm temperature indoors.
The event was a reminder that walking around in the colder weather could still be fun.
“This is a lesson,” said Ramona Massachi, from Roslyn Heights, who came with her children and four other families. “Just bundle up. There’s no reason to be stuck in the house in front of the television.”
She and her children enjoyed all of the activities throughout the day. Her son, Maxeem, 5, was even chosen to be a part of the juggling show. Being on stage made him feel “happy” and “special,” he said.
“The event is fantastic,” Ramona said. “We’ll do it again next year.”
In the middle of the café, a table had an arts and crafts booth for children to make their own masks of animal faces – bears, raccoons, owls and deer were a few of the designs children could use to draw with crayons and markers provided for them.
Other children ran over to the front, where they could play games like Roll-A-Ball and Plinko. If they won, they received a coupon to redeem a prize, which could range from a shiny metallic carnival mask to a small bottle of bubbles.
“My kids had a good time,” said Kathleen Russo, of Massapequa. “I wouldn’t have thought to come in the winter. We were just saying we want to come back in the summer when everything is in bloom.”