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No One’s ‘Board’ At This Café

With kids today obsessed with all the latest electronic gaming gadgets — the Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo 3DS, and the like — you’d think that the comparatively antiquated concept of pushing a piece of plastic along a sheet of cardboard would be eschewed by your average teenager; however, judging by the crowd of kids at the Massapequa Public Library’s Board Game Café, this actually may not be the case.

Young Adult Services librarian Peter Cirona, who created the Board Game Café at the library’s Central Avenue branch (in addition to a whole host of other young adult programs), said that it’s a great way for kids to socialize and play some classic board games in a fun and friendly environment.

“We’ve been doing this since 2003,” he said. “We do it about six or seven times a year...I try to schedule them for when the kids are on vacation. When I first took over Young Adult Services, I realized that we didn’t have too much in the way of young adult programming, and I saw an article about board game cafés in a book about programs for teenagers at the library, so I decided to give it a try...it’s been very successful.”

In addition to an open invitation for kids to bring their games from home, the Board Game Café boasts a selection of about 40 games to choose from; Cirona said that they have been slowly building up over time

“When we first started doing this, I brought in some from home,” he said. “Then I went to Toys R Us and I bought maybe two dozen more. A few years later we went again with the library’s Teen Advisory Board, and people keep donating them as well. The age range varies...it’s supposed to be for kids ages 11 through high school, but most of the one kids that come are from grades six through eight.”

Free soda, pizza and cookies were available to sustain the kids through marathon sessions of Yahtzee, Pictionary, Chutes and Ladders and more; Cirona noted that, as Young Adult Services librarian, he gets to host a number of great events such as this at no-cost to local youngsters; a service he feels fortunate to be able to provide, he said.

“The kids are a lot of fun, and getting to work with them keeps me young myself,” he said. “Since I run programs in both of our buildings, I get to get out and do a lot of different things, and it’s something that I really enjoy.”

Marcus Hogan, age 12, was at the Café with his brother Martin, age 15. Regulars at the Café, they were engaged in a rousing game of that all-time classic board game, Monopoly.

“I come here most every time,” Marcus said. “It’s really fun to play board games here...they have a big selection, and we don’t have many at our house, so it’s cool to play them here. I generally play a lot of different games here, but I like to play Monopoly a lot.”

“Board games are underrated,” Martin added. “Video games are fun, but sometimes you need to go back to the classics and do something a little different or a while.”

Anthony Papasodero, 11, was also enjoying some pizza and attempting to pass GO and collect $200 while playing the popular fast-dealing property trading game of Monopoly with the Hogan brothers.

“I like to come here because there are people my age, and I get to meet people who I haven’t met before,” he said. “I’ve come to the Video Game Café and I kept meeting the same people there and I made friends with them...this is my first time here at the Board Game Café, and when I came in I saw all these different games that I haven’t seen or even heard of before, and most of them seem really cool.”

Anthony Notarnicola, 13, was playing Yu-Gi-Oh, which is a popular a card battle game. A regular at the Board Game Café, Anthony actually had a bag full of some of his favorites from home to share.

“Board games were always the game I had to play because we didn’t really have video games in my early years...my parents just didn’t own them because they didn’t like them that much,” he said. “So, we’d be just played board games, and I love them...I love the classics of Backgammon and Connect Four, and Uno. I actually brought my own here today.”