Snuggled between Snow White and Cinderella, Annika Fogal tipped her head to shake the trick balloons she wore twisted into a hat.
As if stepping from the pages of a fairy tale, Caroline and Katherine Brickley (Snow White and Cinderella) of New Canaan-based Happily Ever After took part in the Miles of Smiles children’s festival hosted by Newtown’s Congregational Church Saturday, February 16. A Cartoon Actors Network Producer Ron VillaReale of Easton, Mass., who had been in contact with Newtown Parks and Recreation Department, coordinated the day’s event with a variety of children’s entertainers.
Mr VillaReale had hopes that the afternoon fun would bring “plenty of smiles” to the children. Standing at the church hall’s entrance where children and parents had been enjoying magicians and knotted balloons, games, music, and volunteers dressed as action figures, cartoon and fantasy characters, he said that the first child he saw had told him it was worthwhile.
“The children are enjoying themselves,” he said. “The program did what it was designed to do.” Why had he and others from Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut, arranged the weekend event? “We’re all your neighbors,” Ms VillaReale said. As a father and a grandfather he “could not help but to get involved,” after 12/14 happened, he said. Gesturing to everyone in the hall Saturday, he said, “We all wanted to come and help the children smile and just be children again for a day.”
Mentioning the “little bit of joy” he and others brought to town, he watched the parents and children playing. “They’re kids; it’s what they need to do.” Mr VillaReale said he “could not turn his back.”
With him was Easton, Mass., resident Kathy Endriunas, who had collected messages of support and hope in a photo album for Newtown. On each photo-size white card was a hand painted pastel pink heart. After taking the blank cards around Easton, residents filled them with individual messages.
The album’s cover page explains, “These heart cards were individually hand painted by two mothers and signed with love by the townspeople of Easton … we will always be with you in spirit and Newtown is always in our hearts.”
After the hearts and cards were completed and placed in the album, Ms Endriunas said, “ I wanted to come to get it in the hands of someone it will mean something to.” She added, “Love will win.”