News: Bowlmor Union Square Closing, a Carousel Delayed, New Location for the July 4th Fireworks and Lots of School News

4/15/14 - By Alina Adams

The kids may be on spring break but the school news never stops. As we teased in our end-of-the-week wrap up last Friday, the Department of Education has announced changes to its grade promotion policies and the New York State Education Department has canceled its contract with the controversial inBloom. But there's even more school news afoot, including updates on Gifted & Talented admissions and an extension for pre-K applications.

In other non-education-related news, we've got the scoop on a new downtown community center, FREE kids' activities at the Brooklyn Flea, a new location for Macy's annual Fourth of July Fireworks, the delay of a long-awaiting carousel and the end of the line for a pair of NYC institutions.


Openings, closings, one big move & a delay After a $55 million gut renovation, the Lower East Side's six-story Manny Cantor Center has reopened with state-of-the-art facilities. Programs of note to families include a preschool, Head Start and Early Head Start, a fitness center, art studios and a community space. The project was spearheaded by the Educational Alliance, a local Jewish organization that's celebrating 125 years of serving people from all ethnic, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.

You've probably heard by now that Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks are moving from the Hudson to the East River, thanks in large part to Mayor de Blasio. As he pointed out in his announcement, the display will now be seen from parts of Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, instead of just the latter. The only losers here? New Jersey, which will no longer have a view at all. I guess we have a lot of updating to do to our where to watch the fireworks post.

The Brooklyn Flea at Park Slope's PS 321 recently opened for the season and now offers FREE children's programming to keep kids engaged while you shop. Come any weekend between noon and 3 pm for art, music, dance and frequent visits from the beloved Carmelo the Science Fellow. Find the complete schedule online. When I was a kid being dragged from flea market to flea market by my parents, I would have loved something like this!

If you've been waiting for the debut of Battery Park's SeaGlass Carousel, you're going to have to wait a little longer. Originally set to open in 2013 then pushed to spring 2014, the latest news is that it won't start spinning until this fall. Update: Now it's spring 2015! Luckily there are lots of other merry-go-rounds in NYC to give you that dizzy, happy feeling.

It's the end of the line for a pair of iconic NYC institutions that, though not kid-specific, we had written about many times at Mommy Poppins. Pearl Paint, the yes-we-have-everything art supply store, seems to be closing—its staff has been let go and its unmissable red-and-white building has been put up for sale. Meanwhile it looks like we've bowled our last strike at the Bowlmor in Union Square. Its building has been sold and is slated for demolition and though we've called to confirm the closing date, we always get a busy signal. So even if it's still open, its demise is imminent. Thankfully NYC has lots of other bowling alleys, including two other Bowlmors!

School daze... Although it still needs to be approved by the Panel for Educational Policy in May, the NYC DOE recently announced that passing the standardized ELA and Math Assessments is no longer the main criteria for grade promotion for third to eighth graders. This change came on the heels of a bunch of local public school protests against the high-stakes nature of the tests. While it seems like a step in the right direction, students' scores are still tied to teacher evaluations so it remains to be seen what kind of impact this will have on test prep in the classroom. As for how this affects middle school admission, the new law stipulates that state test scores cannot be the sole criteria for middle school admission, but as always, it will most likely depend on the individual institutions. Some place a lot of weight on the test scores, others don't.

In Gifted & Talented admission news, the 2014 test was revised to make it "harder" and, as it turned out, fewer kids qualified this year than last, but there still aren't enough available seats for everyone who made the cut. Parents of students who qualified have until next Monday, April 21 to rank their program choices. Meanwhile if you're applying to traditional pre-K, the deadline has been extended to next Wednesday, April 23.

After writing about the potential privacy problems of inBloom last fall, we were thrilled to hear that the New York State Education Department has decided to cancel its controversial contract with the student data storage service. But as education activist Leonie Haimson points out, the war on student privacy has only just begun.

Read all about it In celebration of Poem in Your Pocket Day next Thursday, April 24, NYC elementary, middle and high school students are invited to read their odes at the Bryant Park Reading Room from 11am to 2pm (hours when they're supposed to be in school, go figure). If your kids are interested in showing off their poetry skills, the open mike event is FREE but requires preregistration to

And if you do drop by for the poetry, make sure you leave time to visit the nearby main branch of the New York Public Library, where the kid lit exhibit The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter has been extended through September 7 and new memorabilia like a letter from Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll to the real-life Alice and drawings from The Wizard of Oz have been added.

Eat, drink and be merry Bubby's High Line just debuted a retro, 1920s-style soda fountain complete with homemade ice cream and 15 syrups made from scratch. While it sounds like a scrumptious destination on any day, if you visit on Tax Day (that's Tuesday, April 15) you can snag free soda and sundaes from 2 to 6pm.

And another new downtown dining destination: Starting this June, the Sherman Zwicker, NYC's largest wooden vessel, will open a 62-seat restaurant on its ship, which will be docked at Tribeca's Pier 25. While the fare and prices may be a tad rich for tots, its profits will help subsidize the cost of FREE public boat tours.

Photo by Free Digital Image