Kids from all over Queens met at Harvey Park in Whitestone last Thursday for games, music and food at the Police Athletic League’s (PAL) Queens Borough Celebration Day.
All summer, PAL has been hosting Play Streets, a program that closes off over 100 city streets throughout the boroughs to provide children with safe and supervised places to play.
The program, according to PAL’s Director of Field Operations Richard Guevara, began in 1914 and provides an education component that teaches kids about topics such as saying no to drugs, how to be safe on the Internet and how to communicate, in addition to the “non-stop recreation.”
“For over 100 years we’ve been doing this program,” Guevara said. “Way back when, those commissioners had the foresight to say, ‘Find me idle youth and vacant lots and do a constructive program.’”
Since its inception, the program has been successful, with each site seeing as many as 200 kids throughout the summer, he said.
The Queens Borough Celebration Day commemorated the culmination of summer and the program, which officially ends on Aug. 22. Kids played sports, danced to music and ate free icees.
“These kids don’t get to go out on trips throughout the summer, because they’re situated on the street location where the program takes place,” Guevara explained. “And so this is our way of letting them know that it’s okay. You’re hanging out with kids from around Queens, coming together just to celebrate the summer and the program before we move on and get ready for school.”