Audrey Ignatoff
Greek's Playland: an oasis for the disabled in danger of closing
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By Audrey Ignatoff
April 16, 2013

Many people may not have heard about Greek's Playland, but it has served as an oasis of fun for the disabled community since 1972. It is located in Monroe Township, New Jersey, and was built as a fully accessible recreation facility well before the ADA was enacted. The facility can accommodate people even in inclement weather. It has welcomed over 100,000 mentally and physically challenged individuals.

At Greek's Playland, people who are disabled can have full access to recreational pursuits, including bird watching, fishing, basketball for the blind, miniature golf, a tire park, a Stone Museum, refreshments, entertainment, gifts, and a lot more. Every year, they host a Halloween Party and an October Fest, as well as a variety of other parties and fundraisers, all at no cost! Organizations, such as PTA's, Boys and Girl Scouts, Schools, Day Care facilities, and townships have benefited from outings and events at Greek's Playland. The town of Spotswood, New Jersey held its 100th anniversary celebration here, and when their budget fell short, Playland donated $3,000 of their funds to make sure that the festivities would go on.

This was the dream of a man known as "The Greek," who wanted to find a way to give back for the kindness shown to him by his foster mother and his successful career as a landscaper. In fact, he made a promise to his foster mom that he would always give back a large part of everything that he earned during his lifetime. As an abandoned child, he felt blessed to be raised by his foster mother, who also raised disabled children. This experience influenced the direction of his life. Now, Greek's Playland is fully funded by Garden Falls, a wedding and event facility that the Greek built on the attached land when he could no longer work as a landscaper full time. He takes no salary for his efforts, and puts everything earned from Garden Falls into Greek's Playland and Stone Museum. However, Garden Falls is endanger of being unable to function because a neighbor sued the township of Monroe because of music being played after 10:PM, which he said is disturbing to him in spite of the fact that the noise is monitored by a special machine not to go above the legal noise limit. Sadly, he won his case in court, and it is now being appealed at the Middlesex County Court. If the panel of judges rule against allowing Garden Falls to keep operating, the disabled community may lose out on a lot of fun times that they have come to count on and remember fondly. Greek's Playland, The Stone Museum, and Garden Falls comprise 89 acres of former farmland. According to The Greek, "There is no place like it in the world."

Let's hope for Greek's Playland and Garden Falls to continue to exist and bring countless individuals a sense of joy that only this remarkable place can. Many disabled organizations and individuals, as well as others, will be very upset if the court rules against Garden Falls. Many testimonials and thank you letters were sent to Greek's Playland over the years. Here are some heartfelt quotes:

"For the past ten years we have utilized Garden Falls for a "Fall Festival" for people with disabilities. Without Garden Falls, this event would not take place," – Barbara Smith, Eventfully Yours Productions, LLC

"...the most talked about field trip was definitely the wonderful day spent at Greek's Playland. The children and staff enjoyed every minute." – Susan C. Brenner, Executive Director, Monmouth Day Care Center

"I am writing this letter in support of a very generous man – The Greek – the owner of Display World: Stone Museum. Each year for nine years the Greek has given hundreds of children and adults with developmental disabilities an opportunity to enjoy his facility for Octoberfest." – Maria S. Arnold, Director of Educational Services, Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

In a time when money rules many people, it is refreshing to see someone so caring and concerned about others. The Greek hopes that the facility will remain open forever to be enjoyed and appreciated, especially by the less fortunate. It is good to know that there is something good going on in the Garden State. You may visit Greek's Playland, The Stone Museum, and Garden Falls, and obtain more information at www.gardenfalls.com

© Audrey Ignatoff

 

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Audrey Ignatoff

Audrey Ignatoff is the president of Senior Arts and Systems, a consulting company in health care and geriatrics... (more)

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