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Plenty Of Fun Found In ‘Toys We Used To Play With’



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Two guests during a recent “Toys We Used To Play With” program at Newtown Senior Center were so excited with one of the afternoon’s examples, they both attempted to use them.

Larry Passaro returned to the senior center on July 14 with one of his very popular programs. Passaro has presented programs about toys in the past. This time he focused on those that can be found in the National Toy Hall of Fame.

“There’s a hall of fame for everything in this country,” he told the approximately 20 guests, who laughed at the comment with him.

Joining Passaro for the presentation was Zach Macey, also a familiar face for the senior center crowd. Macey has worked with Passaro, the elder gentleman said, “to jazz up my presentations.”

Macey will be heading to college soon, so outgoing Commission on Aging Chair Anna Wiedemann presented the young man with a thank-you card, a gift, “and best wishes from all of us,” she said.

Passaro began last week’s program by introducing his audience to, “The first toy we all played with: a stick,” he said, drawing additional laughter. “It’s true. Sticks provide an endless source of inspiration, from swords and batons to fishing poles and beyond.”

The lighthearted banter continued for nearly an hour, as Passero narrated and Macey kept up with slides illustrating dozens of toys. Passaro noted the date each toy was introduced and where, along with enjoyable commentary and anecdotes.

“The best jump ropes we played with were just pieces of rope,” he said. “No plastic, no handles.”

Bubbles, paddle balls, marbles, and even cardboard boxes — “Good for everything from helmets to forts and houses,” Passaro noted — were all highlighted.

Yo-yos, wood airplanes, pick-up sticks, and Mr Potato Head — the original, the contemporary one, and even a brief discussion on “that silly decision,” Passaro said, “to drop and then bring back the Mr in his name” — were also featured.

When a slide showing a group of children playing with hula hoops appeared on the screen, Passaro said, “This is what social distancing looked like in the 1950s.”

It was then that the program became a hands-on event. Passaro pulled a hula hoop out from behind the podium he was working from.

Kellen Vollinger, who was at the center with his grandmother, was encouraged by those in the room to try the challenging toy. He courageously moved to the front of the room, and tried to get the plastic hoop to twirl around his waist, but he just could not make it work properly.

Phil Gross was slightly more successful. His attempt resulted in the hoop going around his thin waist, but his jacket stymied his repeated efforts.

Nevertheless, the attempts by both were applauded by the rest of the group.

Passero then returned to his program, educating his guests with more toys to fondly recall and bits of trivia. The very enjoyable event continued, with guests hearing about finger paint, Lego blocks, Tinker Toys and some of the most recent Hall of Fame inductions, including the Connecticut-born Wiffle Ball & Bat set.


Associate Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at shannon@thebee.com.

Larry Passaro makes a point during his presentation, “Toys We Used To Play With,” July 14 at Newtown Senior Center. Assistant Zach Macey, who has helped Passaro create some of his presentations for the local audience, is on the right. —Bee Photos, Hicks
To the delight of those in the audience, Kellen Vollinger made his first attempt at hula-hooping.
Bubbles were first introduced in glass jars, and were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2014, according to Larry Passaro.
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