The organizers of Riverside Rediscovered had just a couple weeks to get the word out about the new art classes the Children’s Museum of the East End planned to hold in their Peconic Avenue headquarters, but it turns out they only needed a day to fill the program to the brim.
As Riverside Rediscovered community liaison Siris Barrios began making the rounds knocking on doors in Riverside last year asking what community members feel they need, the idea of a children’s museum proved to be one of the most popular ideas to revitalize the neighborhood.
At first blush, that might not make much sense to people who live outside of Riverside, the Southampton hamlet across the river from Riverhead that is perhaps best known for housing the county jail and for the folks up to various nefarious pursuits on public streets.
But spend a little time here, and you’ll notice the plethora of baby carriages, pushed by mothers who often have no other form of transportation than their own two feet.
Within 24 hours of announcing the art class, said Ms. Barrios, there were already 22 children ages 2 to 5 signed up for the eight-week long class at the headquarters of the developers who are looking to rebuild the community from the ground up with the participation of the people who already live here.
Most of those kids made it to opening day Tuesday night, but some, who needed to walk to the classes, couldn’t make it because of the pouring rain that began just before the first class.
“I said not to worry about coming if they have to walk,” she said.
The classes are being taught by CMEE Education Coordinator Liz Bard, who jumped right into a lesson Tuesday on mixing primary colored paint to make secondary colors.
The kids then dove right in to an evening of paint splattering, helped along by community member Angela Huneault, who has been tirelessly devoted to the Riverside revitalization effort.
CMEE Executive Dirctor Steve Long was on hand for the festivities.
“I’m so impressed with the way Siris has knocked on doors, met people in the community and learned what the needs are here,” he said. “A children’s museum should serve the needs of children, especially children that don’t have access to arts.”
He watched the kids as they experimented with the colors.
“When you see kids making secondary colors for the first time, it’s like making magic,” he said. “I’m hoping this will be the first of many programs here.”