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East River State Park Cuts Kid Movies, Dubbed as Blow to Families

By Meredith Hoffman | May 23, 2013 8:21am | Updated on May 23, 2013 12:01pm
 Families who frequent East River State Park said they were disappointed at the kid films' cuts.
East River State Park
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WILLIAMSBURG — The past few summers Jonathan Burkan has brought his two young daughters and a set of blankets to East River State Park, where they'd watch "Ice Age," "Wall-E" and other famous children's flicks.

"There were kids there, parents there, everyone from the community," reminisced Burkan of the waterfront movies, the only outdoor kid flicks he knew of in the area. "It was beautiful."

So when he learned that the State stopped the free shows this year after bringing hundreds of Brooklyn Flea vendors to the park, Burkan felt the park was truly gone for local families.

Burkan and other local parents claim the films' discontinuation is yet another blow to families with young children seeking to use the rare green space in the area. First, they felt Brooklyn Flea's arrival took up kids' play space in the park on weekends, and now the main kids' event in the park has been ended, parents lament.

"This place is a circus every weekend," he said of the flea, which locals have complained was robbing residents of rare green space, "and you'd think they'd want to do something for the kids. They don't seem to care about the kids who need to use this park."

The organization that has hosted the films, Town Square Inc., found the State placed a mounting list of expensive demands (like more staff) in order for them to hold the shows, organizers said, claiming that in the end the State made it impossible for the group to hold the events.

A representative from the New York State Department of Parks and Preservation did not immediately respond to calls and emails requesting comment. But in past public meetings State Park representatives have said revenue from the flea would be used for park improvements and maintenance.

"It's very disturbing that they can't find it in their budget," said Burkan of the State's help supporting any extra requirements for the annual film series. "It's ironic that they very quickly sold out our park to someone bringing in hundreds of vendors, and yet they can't work with a local mom."

Another local father Peter Kos, who has brought his 5-year-old son to the films past years, echoed Burkan's sense of disappointment over the discontinued films.

"Because it was free, you'd have a diverse array of a lot of families," said Kos of previous summers. "They'd come out and do a picnic and the kids would run around and play. It was a nice atmosphere."

A representative from the Brooklyn Flea did not immediately respond to requests for comment.