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It was one of those magnificent New York spring Sunday afternoons when the sun is shining, a few clouds dot the sky and the temperature is warm and comfortable. And Central Park's Wollman Rink was filled with children's excited cheers and the oohs and aahs that come with seeing and meeting your favorite celebrities.
Kids--lots of them--and celebrities--lots of them, too--went to a big tent that housed the eighth annual Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation Kids for Kids Day, a fund-raiser filled with games, prizes and entertainment. Event producer Jennifer Nepo and the staff from Empire Entertainment flawlessly orchestrated the four-hour event.
The kids (and their parents, who paid hundreds of dollars to attend) could choose from dozens of carnival and sporting games to play--each run by different celebrities including Geena Davis, Brooke Shields, Ellen Barkin, James Gandolfini, Jesse L. Martin, Lulu and Betsey Johnson, Ricki Lake, Meredith Vieira, Carolina Herrera and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Many of the famous game masters actually seemed to enjoy the day as much as the guests.)
With so many celebs around, a nice touch was that many of the event's countless volunteers had special Polaroid cameras (shaped like popular characters including Barbie and the Tasmanian Devil) to take pictures, which they gave to the guests in special sleeves designed to create immediate souvenirs.
No carnival picnic day is complete without food. And restaurants including Patroon, Eleven Madison Park, Michael's, Fresco by Scotto, Strip House, the Lenox Room, Monkey Bar, Town, Republic, Thom, Commune, Serendipity 3, Slate, Josie's and Gotham Bar and Grill all donated a wide variety of food--for both the kids and the folks with more mature palates. A few favorite kids items: Peanut butter and jelly quesadillas, miniature cheeseburgers, peanut butter and jelly on a stick with a crushed peanut coating and Krispy Kreme donuts. One table display was topped off with a lollipop tree with lemon, lime and tangerine flavored suckers made by Gotham pastry chef Joe Murphy.
In addition to the carnival games, there was an Eloise-themed arts and crafts station donated by (Itsy Bitsy Entertainment Company--one of the day's underwriters). There was also an MTV Say What? Karaoke booth, a Nickelodeon Blue's Clues interactive game lab, a Teletubbies Get Up and Go activity center, a movie making studio, an art center where the kids could paint on large canvasses, tennis and football activities run by John McEnroe and Jason Sehorn, a hair and makeup station donated by Pipino and face painting donated by Peanut Butter Princess Tattoo. Prizes were donated by FAO Schwarz.
Other entertainment included aerial dancers from Antigravity, a performance by the Rhythmics, a Saturday Night Fever impersonator (from Polly Esther's and Culture Club dance clubs), an appearance by a Power Ranger (from toy company Bandai), music by DJ Tom Finn and stiltwalkers, a unicyclist and a juggler from Great Neck Games & Productions.
There were also some speeches from parks commissioner Henry Stern and foundation chair Paul Glaser, among others. The kids in the crowd were getting antsy, though, because they knew what followed the speeches: a performance from pop group Eden's Crush. And all the anxious little girls in the front row--who had spent their day posing with celebrities and getting primped--were ready to rock and roll.