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Carnival at Forest Hills elementary school a big hit

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Hundreds of children did not seem to mind the sweltering 85-degree heat that baked the schoolyard blacktop outside the Forest Hills elementary school at 93-02 69th Ave. Nourishing themselves with perhaps more cupcakes and sodas than their parents gave permission for, they hurled their bodies against the walls in the bouncy castle, conquered the inflatable obstacle course and guessed the speed at which they hit tennis balls against a board -- for four hours.Some took home prizes from contests, others took home stomach aches from too much cotton candy. Youngsters got their faces painted with rainbows, hearts or lightning bolts and showed them off to the oversized cartoon characters roaming about.By 4 p.m., as the castle deflated and the rides slowed down, PS 144's Parents' Association, which organized and hosted the festival by shelling out about $6,000, were pleasantly surprised to discover they had raised around $5,000 in revenue. The profits came from sponsors like Councilwoman Melinda Katz (D-Forest Hills) and her opponent Joseph Nocerino as well as from a raffle and bake and book sales. The money will go toward additional education in music, art and science at the school, said PA Chairwoman Maria Cognata, who spearheaded the event.Dedicated volunteers arrived to set up the event at 7:30 a.m. and did not leave until the cleanup was complete 12 hours later.Because of the success, Cognata said she plans to have the carnival back next year, making it an annual event.Judging from their response to this year's carnival, kids probably wouldn't argue with that.Reach reporter Zach Patberg by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext, 155.

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