The sounds of whistles and laughter filled the air at Commodore Barry Park yesterday as the Second Annual Fort Greene Track and Field Day kicked off. The yearly event, organized by Young Rock Soccer Academy and Turf the Slab, brought families from all over Fort Greene and Clinton Hill to take part in the activities. There were relay races, soccer games and even a climbing wall provided by the 88th Precinct. Volunteers from teams representing Long Island University Brooklyn ran the games, with the footraces being one of the most popular options.
“These kids just did ten running back-and-forth relays, which is kind of awesome,” said April Williams, one of the recreational directors at the nearby Auburn Family Shelter. She and her co-director brought a group of 12 children out to the park for the event.
“I’m pretty sure they’re all sweated out right now,” she said.
Michael Randazzo, one of the event’s organizers, was pleased with the turnout. He said that he was glad to see so many people come to get their kids outside and exercising, adding that it was important to him that these events be free and open to the community.
“We want to do everything free,” he said. “We don’t want anybody to say ‘Oh, I’d love to do this but I can’t afford it,’ or ‘I’d love to do this, but I’m not a part of this club.’ There’s no club. We just want to do events that are good for kids.”
Part of the goal this year was to raise awareness of Commodore Barry Park. The park is in need of renovations to fix the existing fields, according to Tom Wentworth, the founder of Turf the Slab. His proposal also includes building a turf field with lights over a large patch of concrete in the park to make it more usable for the community.
Joy Johns, a local resident, was enthusiastic about the plan as well as the day’s events. She brought her son Brandon from their home in the Farragut Houses across the street after learning about the fun from his teacher.
“They really don’t have anything over here for them to play,” she said. “That’s the thing, no proper sports over here for them to play.”
She hoped that the renovation proposal will go through and more activities will be drawn to the neighborhood. Meanwhile, her son waited eagerly on line for a chance to climb the rock wall.