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Indoor Fun At The Hoboken Family Alliance

Ron Albanese, in his role as POLKA DOT!, was there

The Hoboken Family Alliance's eight annual Cabin Fever festival was held on Saturday, February 6, and it was certainly one to remember.

First, there was a notable venue change; while the venerable Elks building on Washington Street was the locale for the past seven CFs, this year marked a move to the Monroe Center for The Arts. The second floor studio space afforded a nice layout for the event and the back lot offered free parking.

Then, there were the dire warnings two days prior to the event that Mother Nature would be unfurling a crippling snow storm on Hoboken. Would it hamper attendance? Would the event be able to happen at all? With all the logistics, and Superbowl Sunday the next day, postponing was not really an attractive option. The weather was certainly the foremost thing on everyone's mind.

"Thankfully, Cabin Fever was designed to help get people out of the cold and bitter weather," organizer Heather Khazen wrote in an e-mail to everyone on Thursday. It's true: winter in the Mile Square can be tough enough, but as a parent,  it can be flat-out daunting. 

In the end, any worry was all for naught. Despite dire warnings, not a single snow flake fell on the area. Cabin Fever 2010 was on. And on it was.

On the day of the event, just about the entire second floor of the Monroe Center was abuzz with activity. HFA members and Stevens student volunteers were all multitasking. 

I was appearing at the event as my kids and family entertainment character, POLKA DOT! For the last 10 years, I've entertained families in Hoboken, and it's always great to see everyone in the town some call "Polkaville."

I would serve as event emcee, and would also DJ and perform. Earlier in the planning stages of the CF'10, Heather had told me that along with fellow HFA-er Shana Lee, they agreed that "you're exactly what we're looking for." Even after more than a decade of entertaining in the city and having actually started here, it was a huge compliment.

The whole place was a flurry of activity right up to the five hour festival's 10 a.m. opening. Tables were being moved for optimum traffic flow; balloons were being blown up, and demonstrators like Mimi Yoga made last-minute adjustments to how they'd be demonstrating.

At 10 a.m. sharp the doors opened to a steady flow of attendees that continued throughout the event. Any fears about weather warnings, etc. were gone. It was time for fun! 

The event was open to members of the Hoboken Family Alliance, but non-members were welcome to come and join, or pay just to get into the event. Either way, it was a good deal, and a perfect way to see firsthand the "pulling together" efforts of the HFA in the Mile Square community.

In spite of the total blast that is Cabin Fever, The Hoboken Family Alliance isn't only about fun and games. One of their latest efforts to help improve the community is "Hoboken Project Play," an effort to raise funds to improve the play conditions of local parks through fund raising. At the festival, proceeds from sales of cupcakes  donated by A&P went to the cause. CPR demonstrations were presented by the New Mothers Group, and child care facilities like the newly opened Bright Horizons in Maxwell Place were also present. HFA member Michelle Hulsman announced the recipients of special grants as well.

Everywhere one turned, there was something to see and do: there was face painting by Rachel; balloons by Boo The Clown; arts and crafts by the kids from Stevens, and much more. 

United Soccer Stars set up a couple of goals and let the kids have a kick, and the "biggest" little toy store, Big Fun Toys, let kids play games at their table.

Travelin' Tumblers made their way to my "Sound Stage" area, and let the kiddies slide, rock, and yes, tumble on their kids-safe equipment. Hudson Dance and Movement invited the tykes to play some musical rhythm games with them.

Be Vocal and Garden Street Music Both music studios featured children of various ages display their budding musical prowess while entertaining the audience.

In between, I'd perform, doing some comedy, and singing and dancing with the POLKA DOT! pals—and that always includes the parents!

While moms are usually the first to join in with myself and the kids, today was a little different: dads were jumping in right in on my entertaining antics—perhaps it was due to excessive amounts of Superbowl anticipation, as well as cabin fever.

A "Baby Lounge" was outfitted by YogiBo with mats and other fun, soft stuff. Throughout the day Romparoo and Music Together did special performances for kids from 0-24 months.

Anyone working up an appetite was able to grab some goodies made available by Anthony David's. Many a parent worked hard to get their child to have at least some mac and cheese before heading on to the next activity.

By 3 p.m. everyone was a winner for attending Cabin Fever, and many literally as well as figuratively—over 90 raffle prizes had been given away. Even if they didn't win the drawings, many parents had their "prizes" in their arms, and carriages, many of the tired-out tykes with faces painted like spooky creatures, princesses, and butterflies. 

As I began to break down my equipment with some help from those cool Stevens kids I looked around; everyone was tired, but we all had smiles on our faces.

Heather Khazen said the HFA was happy with the turnout, except for one thing: "we could have used 500 more square feet of space!"

See you at Cabin Fever next year.

For more information on the Hoboken Family Alliance, check out www.HobokenFamily.com

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