Bufano Playground is a abuzz with activity this summer, with children running under its spray shower, teenagers playing basketball, and a playground associate providing youngsters with everything from lunch to games, while keeping them occupied.
In short, the park is a community resource that many look to as an outdoor refuge for their children and grandchildren.
On Friday, July 17, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto received an award, a plague in the shape of an official Parks Department maple leaf, for his commitment to providing funding for the playground, its playground associate Mike Casazza, and programs. Benedetto was also cited for his efforts to create Greenstreets around his district.
“As you know the city budget is tight, but we have to have activities for children who come to our parks,” said Parks Assistant Commissioner Edward Lewis, who presented the award. “Assemblyman Benedetto provided funding for the playground associate that supervises the children and maintains the cleanliness and safety of the playground.”
Assemblyman Benedetto said that his commitment to parks went back to his youth when he used Bufano Playground, then called Waterbury Playground, and other nearby parks for recreation.
“I remember being a toddler in the late 1940s and early 50s and my mother walking with me from where we lived on Campbell Drive to Pelham Bay Park; we were outdoors all the time and the parks were the perfect environment to get the fresh air kids need,” Benedetto said. “I am glad to see all of our families here on a hot day, especially with the spray shower on.”
Benedetto added that he still uses city parks. He is presently preparing for a July 31 charity baseball game that will pit the Throggs Neck Merchants Association against the Association of Merchants and Business Professionals of Westchester Square. The game will be played at the Throgs Neck Little League and raise money for the Throggs Neck Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
At Bufano Park, Valerie Yambo brought her three children –Madison, age 1; Peter, age 3; and Zackary, age 8 – out to enjoy the beautiful summer day.
“The kids like the park – it is safe, they get a free lunch, and it has play equipment like the spray showers,” Yambo said. “We come here almost every day in the summer.”
Mom Christina Costanz also brings 6-year-old Christian to the park to use the spray shower on hot days.
“If it were up to him, he would be here every day,” Constanz said. “He loves the spray shower. The park is clean and well-maintained.”