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The city’s youngest generation came together over the weekend for a splashing good time at the New York Public Library Family Benefit.

The predominantly three-feet-and-under crowd ran around freely, enticed by a sea of paper plate octopuses, recycled submarines, and tropical sugary sweets set up at buffets around the historic Astor Hall.

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The benefit, which is held annually, aims to raise funds for services and programs for millions of children who access the Library’s 87 neighborhood branches each year. The event’s interactive exhibits and carefully curated live music were designed to spark young readers’ imagination and inspire a passion for reading.

Concert  Storytime

This year’s event was themed “Ocean Adventure,” and was complete with a treasure map-guided adventure set up along the halls of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. The aquatic playground was complete with singing sailors, mermaids, and giant pastel jellyfish hanging above the young explorer’s heads.

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There was also no shortage of underwater entertainment to whet the appetite – so to speak – as kids wandered from reading and adventure rooms with labels like, “Puppet Port” (the kid-friendly show room) and the ABC of It exhibit, which featured cult children’s classics come to life. The exhibit showcased colorful displays from “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown and Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are”.

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As the two-hour event came to an end, families were sent cheerfully back to the sea of the city with goodie bags and balloon animals – ahoy! What a fun way to dive into the new year.

– Tracey Lewis

Photos by Julie Stapen/The New York Public Library and by Tracey Lewis