Monday, September 7, 2015

Another Amalia Birthday—New York Style

Amalia’s a lucky girl.  A week after celebrating her 4th birthday at a pool party at her grandparents’ house in the country, she got a second birthday party in her hometown of New York City.  In Manhattan, Amalia has been invited to toddler birthdays that included rented function rooms, hired entertainers and waiters passing out hors d’oeuvres, but her folks managed to throw a super fun birthday with a minimum of expense (and a maximum of lugging things) in New York’s Central Park on Sunday, Aug. 23.   (Meanwhile in the nearby ball field, a bride and groom and their large audience were celebrating their wedding ceremony, which culminated with a loud cheer from the onlookers.) 

The day began with a safari or wagon train to transport everything over the four crosstown blocks from Amalia’s 14th floor apartment, into the park, and then on behind the Metropolitan Museum to a spot near Turtle Pond. Of course the passengers in the wagon train included Amalia’s little brother Nicolas, four months old. 

We used two strollers and a cooler on wheels, and the stuff we toted included a pink “princess castle” and a small inflated Doc McStuffins “bouncy house” filled with multiple balls.   Amalia and her Mommy wore matching dresses from Nicaragua.

Parents with toddlers and babies arrived; wine, beer, pink lemonade and popcorn were dispensed and Amalia’s Papi walked over to Farinella’s on Lexington to pick up long, rectangular pizzas (called “palams”). 

Meanwhile little Nicolas made friends with Milind, Siya’s little brother.

 We had already bought and transported the two cakes—a carrot cake from Citarella’s (the only cake flavor Amalia will eat—and only $20!) and a Sugar Cookie Cake from Insomnia Cookies on Second Ave. and 82nd.  

 This was an expanded version of the only cookie Amalia likes--she calls them “moon cookies” because of the moon on the Insomnia Cookies sign (They deliver warm cookies to your apartment up to 3 a.m., hence the “Insomnia” in the name.)

The candles on the cakes were lit and blown out by the birthday girl.   

 After that came the Doc McStuffins piñata, under the direction of Amalia's Papi, which was gamely attacked by Amalia, but not broken open until an older boy took the stick.  But before the cake and piñata came the highlight of the party that everyone had been waiting for—Manny the Bubble man.

Amalia’s folks had discovered Manny the Bubble Man in Central Park a year earlier.  He’s not the only street entertainer in the park who creates giant bubbles with sticks, rope, water and dish detergent, but he is probably the maestro of bubbles. 

 He considers bubble making an art form and was a little disappointed (as were the parents) that the youngsters kept popping his giant bubbles before they reached their full size.

Manny told me that he has done ads or commercials for Tiffany’s and with Sarah Jessica Parker. 

  Eleni and Emilio had booked him for half an hour, but he stayed an extra fifteen minutes, creating customized bubbles for each child plus parent.  Here’s Eleni’s long-time roommate Katherine with her son Pace.

 And Amalia with her Papi.

 Nobody wanted to leave, but it was getting late and people started packing up.  “The goody bags come at the end,” Amalia informed me, as she passed out Dr. Seuss bags from Target with back-to-school treasures inside.

We reassembled the wagon train, complete with all our gear and lots of presents for Amalia to unwrap later, and headed back toward home, thinking “Thank goodness for good weather, an August (not December) birthday date, and the magic combination of little kids and really big bubbles.”  

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