jersey and an Islanders baseball cap, four-year-old Michael Sitler ran in front of his parents up to the autograph table set up in front of the Wave Swinger at Adventureland Park on Sunday, Oct. 3. Grinning from ear to ear, the boy stopped, barely able to see over the top of table and yelled, “Hey Blake Comeau!”
The Islanders forward found it cute and with a big smile on his face, reached over the table and gave Sitler a big high-five. Noticing Sitler’s big blue badge with a picture of batman that said “Birthday Hero,” Comeau asked if it was his birthday. Sitler’s parents then explained that he had just turned four the day before, so Comeau happily replied with “Happy Birthday” and told the Sitler family that it was also Josh Bailey
and Bruno Gervais’ birthdays.
Spending the day with your family at an amusement park going on rides, playing games and eating cotton candy are times when families create great memories that will last a lifetime. Sunday was no exception. While many families enjoyed themselves, many of the New York Islanders players also made memories of their own as they spent the morning at Adventureland Park in Farmindale, signing autographs and going on rides with their fans.
“I was able to meet a lot of the fans that support us all year through the good times and the bad. It’s great to come out and meet some of the people that we see in the stands,” Blake Comeau said.
I never thought growing up that young kids would want to know my name and want autographs, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s nice to know that we have the support that we do around the community. We have great fans. They’re passionate. They love the game here and everyone here is excited that we are playing on the Island. - Blake Comeau
“I never thought growing up that young kids would want to know my name and want autographs, but it’s a lot of fun,” Comeau continued. “It’s nice to know that we have the support that we do around the community. We have great fans. They’re passionate. They love the game here and everyone here is excited that we are playing on the Island.”
One of the stations that had the most fun while signing autographs was Zenon Konopka and PA Parenteau
’s table. Stationed in front of the Balloon Tower, Konopka broke out into cheer while having a conversation with a few fans. Banging on the table he chanted, “Let’s go Islanders.”
Quickly, more than thirty fans standing close by joined in and gathered around the table. Some of the young boys at the event with their fathers joined in on the percussion, helping Konopka keep the tune going.
A few minutes later, Konopka and Parenteau took a short break signing autographs, to hang out with the fans on the Carousel. After getting off the ride with the players, Kristin Blanco said, “I think it’s great because the players really seem to enjoy it. They’re very friendly towards the kids and it just makes it fun for everyone.”
As a mother of four from Upper Brookville, Blanco couldn’t have been happier about the experience. She said, “All of them so far have really taken time to talk to all of my kids. I have four kids and they have no problem signing autographs for all of them. So it’s good. It’s worth it.”
But fans weren’t the only ones to bring their families. Islanders captain Doug Weight brought his entire family to spend the day at Adventureland and to go on rides with their friends.
“Oh yeah. They wouldn’t miss it,” said Weight. “They’re out on all the rides. Their mom brought all three of them down and a couple of their friends, so it’s a great opportunity for them to get to see all the guys and also experience the rides. It’s always fun to see everybody.”
Weight said his favorite part of the day was seeing all the happy faces moving through his autograph line. “Just seeing all these kids flowing through the line, they’re all so excited to be here and that’s pretty exciting as a person when you can put some smiles on kids’ faces,” Weight said.
Just seeing all these kids flowing through the line, they’re all so excited to be here and that’s pretty exciting as a person when you can put some smiles on kids’ faces. It’s certainly for the Islanders Children’s Foundation, which we do a lot for, it’s just always a good cause and a lot of things that we are orientated to help those kids out, so it’s good to see all these kids come through the lines with big smiles. - Doug Weight
"It’s certainly for the Islanders Children’s Foundation, which we do a lot for, it’s just always a good cause and a lot of things that we are orientated to help those kids out, so it’s good to see all these kids come through the lines with big smiles,” Weight said.
Islanders rookie Nino Niederreiter
hung out at the Music Express. A little apprehensive to go on the ride at first, the 18-year-old gave in to go and took a ride with his fans. “It was good actually,” Niederreiter said about going on the ride. “At first I didn’t want to go because I was scared I guess, but in the end I enjoyed it.”
Islanders defenseman Bruno Gervais also had a lot of fun. He was really interacting with the people who came to his table for autographs, even playing rock-paper-scissors with six-year-old Brendan Maher from East Northport.
The New York Islanders Booster Club were also present, trying to garner up some new members, taking the opportunity to meet some of the fans as well as the players. Gary Harding, President of the club, was really happy to be a part of the event.
“I look back and remember when I was a kid and get to meet a professional ball player or something and it surpasses your wildest dreams in some cases,” Harding said. “Hopefully it means the same for some of these kids.”
At the end of the day, the event was extremely successful and with all the funds raised from the cost of admission, the Islanders Children’s Foundation will receive a large donation, so they can continue to help the children in our Long Island community.