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200 brave heat to attend Forest Park roller disco

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While many children were swimming or cooling off with water from fire hydrants, more than 200 Queens youngsters decided last Thursday’s record-breaking temperatures marked the perfect occasion to rollerblade.

Turnout at the fourth annual Rock ‘n’ Rollerblade at Victory Field in Forest Park was lower than in past years, but the 100-degree heat did not stop those who showed up from having a blast.

“I’m burning and sweating, but I’m still having fun,” said Brandon Cavanaugh, 10, of Richmond Hill.

“Kids never feel the heat,” said Rolando Rincòn, who skated with his son and godson.

According to one of the event’s organizers, John Falcòn, the heat scared away thousands of bladers. “Last year lines stretched down the block,” he said. “We had to turn people away. More than 3,000 showed up.”

The event, sponsored by the city Parks Department, the New York Post, The Truth.com and 103.5 WKTV, is held once in each borough throughout the summer.

“It’s really a local event,” said Lauren Brignone, who coordinated the festivities for the Parks Department. “We like to come to the boroughs. It’s free and fun and that’s what the city parks are about.”

Victory Field was transformed into a disco hall, with music provided by 103.5 WKTU. Flashing multi-colored lights and what the Parks Department described as the East Coast’s largest disco ball at more than four feet in diameter, hovered over the festivities.

Five mobile vans with 500 pairs of rollerblades, 500 sets of safety gear and 500 helmets donated by Rollerblade were on hand to make sure all were equipped to rock ‘n’ roll.

But for the most part, the bladers were content just to remain on their feet Many children spent more time on the ground than on their blades, making the jobs of the safety equipment and the 40 park associates on hand to supervise the skating particularly valuable.

By the end of the evening, bladers who were on their hands and knees earlier on had gained confidence. “This is great,” said Rincòn, whose son Rolando Jr. showed significant improvement by night’s end. “Surrounded by others, these kids are more motivated.”

Falcòn said: “I have seen kids where I had to hold them up and now they’re whizzing by. The most rewarding aspect of this is to see a kid who doesn’t know how to skate, who says I can’t do it and then he takes off and falls in love with it.”

The makeshift disco rink was full of many aspiring bladers, but the most popular spot in the park was the table housing three coolers with ice cold water.

“This place is great,” said Joey Sanchez, 11, of Richmond Hill. It’s cool with all the drinks.”

Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 155.

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