Thousands attend Smile on Maspeth Day
by Benjamin Fang
Sep 17, 2019 | 5316 views | 0 0 comments | 207 207 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Smile On Maspeth 2019
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Thousands of residents attended the 12th annual Smile on Maspeth Day carnival, a free, family-friendly event organized by Maspeth Federal Savings.

The carnival, which took place last Sunday, featured games, prizes, live entertainment and much more.

Tom Rudzewick, president and CEO of Maspeth Federal, said hundreds of people were already lined up around the block when the gates opened at 11 a.m.

“We’re excited to see the smiling faces on all the kids,” he said.

Smile on Maspeth Day began as a way to bring the community together during the Great Recession, when residents were beginning to feel the impact of the tough economy.

Rudzewick said the bank wanted to create a better atmosphere for the entire community. Today, it serves as a day to wrap up summer, during which Maspeth Federal puts on community events like concerts and movie nights.

“It really puts a warm spot in our hearts to know we can bring everyone together for a full day of fun,” he said. “It gets us motivated for the next year.”

This year, the marquee act was members of the Flying Wallendas, a family of high-wire performers who have performed for almost a century.

The Flying Wallendas have made the Guinness Book of World Records for accomplishing the seven, eight and 10-person pyramid.

Rudzewick said the Wallendas have passed along their skills from generation to generation, which ties into Maspeth Federal’s emphasis on family.

“We want everyone to feel like they’re part of our family,” he said. “The Wallendas are the same way.

“I’m not going to get up there,” Rudzewick added about the high-wire acts. “But I’ll be here to cheer them on.”

The Wallendas performed a set that included juggling, pyramids and, of course, balancing on the high wire.

Tino Wallenda, who has been performing for 68 years, said he found the crowd in Maspeth to be appreciative.

“It’s more daring for them than for us because we really rehearse everything,” he said. “Of course, there is always the element of danger and something could always go wrong.”

Tino is the sixth generation of Wallendas to perform. His two kids, Aurelia and Alessandro, performed at Smile on Maspeth Day, as well as Tino’s daughter-in-law.

His two other daughters are also active performers. Of Tino’s seven grandchildren, he said, five are also actively performing.

“It’s important that if that’s what they want to do, that they enjoy it and want to carry on the tradition,” Wallenda said. “Obviously it’s a plus if the tradition continues on, with pride in my children and pride in my family heritage.”

Wallenda added that it seemed that everyone had a “delightful and wonderful time” watching their performance.

“That’s the most important thing,” he said.
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