Greenpoint Gazette
Courtesy Vanessa Yee-Chan

Twinkle: A Diamond In The Rough

BY Lizette Borreli

A family-owned business is in its final stages of construction before February 2013 grand opening.

North Brooklyn’s youngest adventurers will soon be able to climb a tree with a spiral staircase or make a pit stop to play with dragons at Williamsburg’s newest play space, Twinkle.

Currently in its final stages of construction, Twinkle has been “designed [in a] unique [way] no one ever thought of doing]” boasted owner Victor John. The idea for an innovative indoor facility that would steer away from the aesthetics of most play spaces first came in August from Vanessa Yee-Chan, his daughter and a mother of two.

Twinkle combines elements of education and entertainment for their impressionable clientele, and will contain constructions guaranteed to keep them physically active. A case in point is the main feature of the play space – a 40 foot makeshift tree with a spiral staircase that goes all the way up, and a slide that goes down to the ground in less than 10 seconds.

In addition, a makeshift fire truck will provide a fun way for kids to learn about fire safety. This hands-on section allows them to change tires, coordinate colors and hear prerecorded sounds of a fire house.

If a towering tree and custom built fire truck are not an eye-grabbers, then rest assured the four meticulously designed and constructed dragons displayed against the wall will more than suffice. The multicolored serpents release Styrofoam balls that are inserted through a vacuum-functioning tube. Children will have the option to decide whether they want the balls to go left or right through the use of a lever. A built-in lake on a corian platform will help kids understand science by demonstrating the flow of water through a vortex-shaped funnel.

“The idea is to spark their curiosity [through the presentation of choices],” explained Yee-Chan.

Kids will also learn future daily activities with a built-in grocery store in which they can shop with their carts and place items on an actual conveyor belt. Located directly above is the Graffiti room, where visitors can play with a multitude of balloons.

Next door is a salon for girls where a pulley will have a variety of wigs, such as bobs and afros.

No play space would be complete without a party room. For birthdays, clients will have several themes to choose from, as well as a cake made out of cupcakes based on their package. This multifunctional room will be the site of alternative arts and crafts classes, such as balloon making and silk screening that will teach youngsters to make their own t-shirts. This space also serves as a backdrop for a stage. Twinkle will hope to host performances put on by the kids for their parents

But with all these new places and objects for their little ones to explore, parents need not worry about potential accidents. The Johns have thought of every safety measure that can be taken. There are safety nets throughout the area. The floor is comprised of Styrofoam, and a small section has a secured water bed underneath where kids can feel as if they are walking on water.

Parents and guardians cannot drop-off their children and must remain on the premises at all times to supervise them. After arriving at a “parking lot for strollers” located on a rotating circular platform and storing their belongings in a nearby conveyer, adults can visit a café located on the second floor with Internet access where they can vigilantly watch their kids at play.

Twinkle, though located in Williamsburg, is not just for local residents, and Yee-Chan aims for a broader base of customers. “The play space is not exclusive; those in the greater New York City area can also visit” she assured.

“Eventually we want to extend to all of New York” added Mieka John, John’s younger daughter. The plan is by no means overly ambitious. The play space is easily accessible from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway with parking both below the highway and on local streets.

Yee-Chan and Mieka John will run the family-owned business, according to their father’s business-oriented philosophy: “If you take care of business, you will be able to take care of the rest.” Papa John also has plans to construct a day care for this extended indoor playground. “I work in reverse” he explained.

The hours of operation will be from Monday through Friday 10 AM to 6 PM. Themed parties in the party room will be hosted from 4 PM to 6 PM. The daily fee is $17, with short term membership fees of three months to six months TBA. Ages 1-6. Twinkle is located on 144 Frost Street between Graham Avenue and Manhattan Avenue. The play space will open its doors on February 2013.


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