News: Downtown Lego Invasion, Free Playwriting Workshop for Teens, Bring Imagination Playground to Your School

4/29/14 - By Alina Adams

Big news for Lego lovers, including the scoop on the company's soon-to-open flagship NYC store. Plus, some cool new openings in Brooklyn, a FREE intergenerational playwriting project for teens, the postponement of one of our favorite annual family festivals and a new online forum where you can share your worst parenting confessions anonymously. Read on for all of this and a bunch of other kid-centric tidbits.


Openings & closings If your kids are as obsessed with Legos as mine, then prepare to geek out. There's a brand-new flagship Lego Store coming to the Flatiron District this summer complete with a play space where kids can get creative with the plastic bricks. Stay tuned for the exact debut date and the inevitable opening weekend festivities. Located at 200 Fifth Avenue, it will be right across from Madison Square Park and just blocks from another nerd mecca: the Museum of Mathematics. I see a geeky day-long outing in our future.

More Lego news: Chelsea's Clement Clarke Moore Park (better known as Seal Park on 22nd Street and Tenth Avenue) is currently home to a trio of larger-than-life-size Lego people created by master builder Nathan Sawaya of The Art of the Brick fame. Dubbed Hugman, the installation features more than 50,000 Legos that were signed by visitors to Sawaya's exhibit at Discovery Times Square. The statues are on view through Friday, May 16.

And if you happen to be in Chelsea, be sure to pop by David Zwirner's 19th Street gallery, which has been transformed into a candy-making factory for the new installation A Mercantile Novel. Watch as the candies are made and then take a few FREE treats with you. Thanks to gallery expert David Behringer at The Two Percent for the sweet tip.

Another Manhattan addition we're psyched about: a Midtown East outpost of Queens family favorite Spa Castle. Details on the Spa Castle Premier, which opens this fall, are still being finalized, so we're not sure it will be as kid-friendly as the original. But don't worry, we'll be happy to test out its saunas, massages and swimming pools on behalf of other NYC families to find out!

Two new kids' stores grow in Brooklyn: Just opened by the designer behind Park Slope's Items of Interest, Prospect Heights' Kids Design the World stocks toys, games, design tools and furniture, and will be offering animation, graphic design, architecture and engineering classes for children. Meanwhile Two Kids and a Dog recently debuted in Dumbo with a carefully curated selection of toys, clothes, shoes, accessories and gifts all personally selected by local mom and owner Natalia Jacobs.

Sad news about a pair of FREE NYC multidisciplinary arts fests: Lower Manhattan's River to River Festival in Lower Manhattan is cutting back its schedule from a month to just 11 days. However, the organizers insist the amount of programming will remain roughly the same—you'll just have to make some hard choices about what to see. The schedule will be released in May. Meanwhile, the East Village's Howl! Fest, originally scheduled to take place at the end of May, has been postponed indefinitely due to red tape. Since it's one of our top annual fests for families we'll be sure to post the new dates once they're set.

And finally, if you were thinking of hitting the Union Square Playground over the next few weeks, take note that it's reportedly closed for repairs through mid-May.

Teen drama... the good kind The venerable New York Theatre Workshop is looking for a few good 14- to 18-year-olds for its Mind the Gap project, which brings adolescents and elders (ages 60 and up) together to write plays inspired by their lives. Fourteen participants (seven teens and seven seniors) will be chosen through an interview process, no theater or playwriting experience required. Bonus: It's FREE. The deadline to apply is May 23 and the workshops take place throughout July.

Easy ways to help others... and yourself Got any old crutches lying around the house? From Monday, May 12 to Sunday, May 18, is organizing a drive to collect gently-used crutches to give to children in need around the world. There are more than 50 collection sites in the tri-state area and all sizes are accepted. The nonprofit has even partnered with UBER car service to make it easier (and cheaper) to drop off your donations.

In honor of National Foster Care Month, local chain Billy's Bakery is donating .50 cents from every regular-sized red velvet cupcake sold throughout May to the nonprofit New York Foundling. So you can feel good about indulging your family's sweet tooth.

If you love South Street Seaport's Imagination Playground as much as we do, listen up. You can enter to win a FREE set of signature Imagination Playground blue foam blocks for your school, community center or other kid spot courtesy of this Scholastic giveaway. The deadline is Wednesday, April 30 so you have to act fast. But the application is super-simple and it's not a popularity contest where you must amass votes. Instead you write a paragraph about why your org is worthy and entries will be judged on merit.

Land(mark), ho! NYC just got two cool new landmarks that families should appreciate: Flushing Meadows Corona Park's New York State Pavilion originally built for the 1964 World's Fair (so they're finally sprucing it up!). And on Wednesday, May 14 as part of Children's Book Week, the Yorkville Community School at 421 East 88th Street will be declared a literary landmark in honor of late author/illustrator Bernard Waber's classic 1962 picture book The House on East 88th Street, which introduced the world to Lyle the Crocodile. A United for Libraries bronze literary landmark plaque will be permanently mounted at the site, in case your kids want to see where the nabe where the cool croc resided.

True parenting confessions And finally, need a public forum to complain about your kids? The newish tumblr Parenting Confessional invites real-life moms and dads to vent anonymously. Some of their secrets are pretty amusing ("I hide chocolate bars between the sanitary napkins in the bathroom"), while others are thought-provoking ("Tonight I made my son apologize to me when I was the one who should’ve apologized.") Worth a look even if you never participate.

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