Outside the restaurant, the children got their faces painted, took pony rides, and adopted balloon animals. When the outdoor festivities ended, the fun continued inside with a catered lunch.
"I asked George [O’Neill] to have lunch one day and he turned it into a carnival for all the kids to brighten their day,” said Betsy Moran, a paraprofessional from P.S. 153. “He does so much good and he never gets the credit he deserves."
The students boarded schools buses from their nearby schools, arriving at their destination in just minutes, which the escorting teachers and paraprofessionals counted as a blessing.
“My kids really haven’t taken any trips this year,” said Maegan Walter-Garvey, a special ed teacher at P.S. 229, “ because they’re too little to take the long bus rides. They were so excited when they saw the horses because we learned about farms this year.”
Though some of the children were confined to strollers or wheelchairs, their best accessories by far were their expressions of delight.
“I’d love to do this everyday if I could,” said O’Neill’s owner George O’Neill. “When you see those smiles, it’s worth it.”
O’Neill, who for years has hosted an annual party for the children and families of police officers killed in the line of duty, said he plans to implement the party for special needs kids as a yearly event.
P.S. 153 Principal Susan Bauer expressed gratitude for the lavish and unexpected gesture.
“With our budget we could never have done anything like this,” she said. “It’s so nice when the community gets involved to support the kids, and we’re so grateful.”