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Quassy Amusement Park, Here We Come, “Weather” or Not!

Defying Gray Clouds, Hamaspik’s Massive Sukkos Community Outing Shines


Takes a lot more than gloomy skies and chilly air to get Hamaspik down!


That fact was the order of the day if you were at Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury, Connecticut on Sunday, October 8. 


In fact, judging by the massive and gleeful Hamaspik crowd alone, you’d never have known the weather was less than perfect.


But the facts on the ground defied the gray in the sky, with hundreds of children and adults of all ages and abilities freely milling about and enjoying Hamaspik’s daylong family outing.


The warm occasion countered any cold precipitation.  And by the time the capacity crowd went home at day’s end, it had weathered all the family fun it could handle, “weather” or not.


Turning gears of fun

Taking its name from picturesque Lake Quassapaug on whose southern shore it lies, Quassy has been a regional favorite for generations, amusing Tri-State Area residents for decades.


Quassy has been admirably tapping into the sizable Jewish market in recent years, meeting the specialized requirements of a growing number of community groups, including Hamaspik.  This year’s visit to the Connecticut park marks Hamaspik’s fourth.


First in private vehicles carrying Hamaspik’s logistics team to set up a welcome table, then in a large number of charter buses, vans and smaller cars, the entire spectrum of the community could be seen approaching the main gate in twos, threes and larger family groups.


Besides residents of Hamaspik’s dozen-plus group homes across three counties, also in attendance were individuals benefiting from a number of critical Hamaspik community services, including Family Care, At-Home Respite, After-school Respite (ASR), Community Habilitation (Comm Hab) and others.


Making it a true family outing was the fact that those individuals were accompanied by immediate family members, including parents and siblings.


Strollers mingled with wheelchairs and toddlers toddled alongside Tatties and Zaidies (Yiddish for Dads and Grandpas) as Hamaspik’s community—devoted staff, loving parents and siblings and beloved individuals alike—converged on the entrance.


Once there, tickets were handed over, hands stamped and wrists adorned with admission bands, and last-minute entry glitches smoothly ironed out by Hamaspik Special Events Coordinator Brenda Katina.


And once inside the main gates, the Hamaspik guests had the full run of Quassy’s dozens of attractions.  Those included a classic ornate carousel, thrilling bumper cars, a three-story giant slide… and what would an amusement park be without a heart-pounding roller coaster?


From the adorable spinning teacup ride to the Wooden Warrior roller coaster crowd favorite, Quassy had something for everyone, disabilities notwithstanding.


For the next few hours, guests could also be seen riding Quassy’s kiddie train, “Galleon Pirate Ship” and an assortment of circular rides, having fun just like any typical kid—which is exactly the idea.


New this year—Mrs. Katina always manages to come up with something fresh!—was the Bubble Bus, a mobile bubble-making demonstration that filled the air with the magical spheres.


Also new was the zoo—the traveling petting zoo, that is.  A veritable flock of penned-in sheep and goats was on hand for children of all ages to pet and feed.


All through the day, a professional DJ pumped popular tunes into the air from Quassy’s main stage, blending modern technology and traditional melodies into a mix that filled the atmosphere with an upbeat energy and joy—perfectly capturing and accentuating the happy spirit of Sukkos.


The music did its job, apparently, as groups of Hamaspik guests were seen from time to time taking to the stage to dance and sing along with the infectious beats and catchy songs.


Keeping the crowds well fed and hydrated were ample stocks of healthy snacks and drinks—along with a sizable sukkah, or leaf-covered hut, in which to eat and drink the sandwiches, apple juice, cookies and more set out for guest consumption.


On hand to ensure smooth and safe operations were a number of volunteers, both Hamaspik employees and otherwise. 


Backing Mrs. Katina once again were stalwart lieutenants Mr. and Mrs. Mayer Rutner, who returned this year to head up the event’s devoted coordination team.


The Rutners’ work was anything but standard, the Coordinator reports.  They stood by all day— fairly literally, mostly on their feet as they were—assisting Mrs. Katina with all things logistics.


Also on hand was a contingent of EMTs with the Hatzolah rescue corps, including Mr. Rutner’s brother Yoel, who came up from Brooklyn’s Williamsburg district to volunteer his time—and who also arranged an onsite Hatzolah ambulance.  (Other than opening its doors to allow curious children to explore its main bay, that ambulance fortunately saw no real action.)


A third Rutner, Eliezer, joined volunteers Moshe Babad, Mayer Lax and Yoel Yitzchok Schwartz in providing all-around assistance, along with bus organizer Hershel Elbaum.


Finishing touches

With the late-afternoon winding down of the event, the menfolk gathered for a minyan (prayer quorum) for the Mincha afternoon prayer service.


Following that, tired but happy guests slowly made their way to the parking lot just past the main gate, where dozens of charter buses and other vehicles awaited.


Of course, no one could leave without collecting Mrs. Katina’s signature “parting gift” goodie bags filled with sweet treats—and once loaded, those buses, cars and vans headed back to destinations as near as Brooklyn and far as upstate Rockland and Orange Counties.


When it comes to meeting a community’s needs, the social-services agency has always gone the extra mile.


And this time, weather notwithstanding, it collectively went hundreds of extra miles—all the way to Connecticut and back.