Manhattan Beach Park

Pat Parlato Playground

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

Pat Parlato (1926-1988), was a life-long Brooklyn resident and a Parks employee for more than 17 years. As a part of the maintenance staff at Manhattan Beach, Parlato’s strong commitment to the park earned him the respect and admiration of the surrounding community. After his sudden death on January 4, 1988, community members petitioned Parks to rename the parkland in his honor.

Pat Parlato attended P.S. 142 and Textile High School where he was interested in pattern making and fashion design. He was drafted into the U.S. Navy, serving two years based in San Diego. Parlato returned to school after his time in the military, and eventually joined Parks in 1973. Parlato’s wife, Caroline DiScala, had attended school with his younger brother, but it was only after Parlato returned from the military that the two fell in love. Together, Pat and Caroline had three children: Carol Anna, Michael, and Lisa. Parlato showed enthusiasm not only for his community parks, but was also involved in other local organizations including the Boy Scouts, Little League, and the Columbia Association.

“Pat treated Manhattan Beach like a much-loved backyard, tending to it with great care and concern,” said Commissioner Stern at the time of the playground’s dedication in 1988, “We at Parks are proud of his exemplary service at this seaside park. Pat Parlato Playground will serve as an enduring tribute to Pat’s distinguished Parks career.”

Manhattan Beach was created by real estate developer Austin Corbin (1827-1896) in 1877. It began as a self-contained summer resort located on 500 acres of salt marsh on the eastern peninsula of Coney Island. Visitors stayed at the Oriental Hotel and the Manhattan Beach Hotel and attended concerts by bandmaster John Philip Sousa (1854-1932), who composed the Manhattan Beach March (1893), to commemorate the resort. Corbin was the president of the Long Island Railroad from 1880 until his death.

The opening of amusement parks, and the closing of Coney Island’s racetracks in 1910, led to the swift decline of the area’s hotels. Residential development began in the area in 1907, redefining the character of the neighborhood. Today, Manhattan Beach, whose streets are arranged in alphabetical order from Amherst to Pembroke and named after places in England, is home to approximately 7000 people.

The City acquired these 16 waterfront acres of land in 1951, for park purposes. An additional 24.4 acres were acquired in 1954. Manhattan Beach opened to the public on July 15, 1955 and was welcomed as an alternative to the crowded beaches of Coney Island.

Pat Parlato Playground received a $778,000 renovation in 1997, funded by Borough President Howard Golden and Council Member Anthony D. Weiner. The playground features a nautical theme, featuring a 36-foot pirate ship, wooden planks and passageways, seashell spray showers, talk tubes, a cast-iron cannon, a cargo net and a crow’s nest, from which flies the American flag. Also, new tot and regular swings, safety surfacing, two handball courts, three basketball courts, drinking fountains, benches, fences, trees, a palm-tree sprinkler with giant bugs painted under the fronds located within a compass, and a children’s sundial where a person’s shadow tells the correct time were installed. The playground also includes lampposts and game tables.

The re-opening ceremony featured remarks by Commissioner Stern, State Senator Carl Kruger, Council Member Anthony Weiner, and Chairperson of Community Board #15, John Nikas. Entertainment came courtesy of the Kings Chorus, the Brooklyn Chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America. To conclude the ceremony, Commissioner Stern officially christened the play-ship by smashing a bottle made of sugar against the prow.

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