NEWINGTON - This Sunday the Big K Flea Market will open without its mascot for the first time.
When the late Alexander “Al” Cohen passed away on July 27, 2017 at age 99, it marked the end of an era for Newington and its Kiwanis Club, which has run the market since 1992. The longtime volunteer loved the flea market and everything it represented - a gathering of friends, a place to find rare deals and a fundraiser for the many community causes the club supports. Cohen was also the Kiwanis’ publicity chair and did back flips to spread the word about activities.
Now members are moving into their 2018 season without him, with a mission to revive the club, gather younger members and welcome new endeavors.
Many civic clubs face similar challenges, as younger folks balance busy schedules with social interaction that is largely on digital platforms.
“We live such fragmented lives nowadays with social media,” Kiwanis President Dan Henry pointed out. “Our club allows you to have real world interaction with people of all ages. We band together as a team to do some good community service for the town and surrounding area.”
Vendor and admission fees collected at the flea market total over $15,000 annually and are donated to local charities close to members’ hearts. That includes the Salvation Army in New Britain, Newington Community Television, Newington Human Services, the Newington Food Bank, the Newington Memorial Day Parade, local Boy and Girl Scouts and many others.
Looking into the future, prospective new members might have other causes they’d like to support, as well as different activities for the club to get involved in.
“As the membership changes, so do our priorities,” Henry explained. “It’s really up to members to decide what we choose to participate in, how we raise money and how we spend that money.”
As club president for several years, he would consider passing the reins onto an energetic newcomer.
The Big K Flea Market opens this Sunday, April 29, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Constitution Square, which is the municipal parking lot behind East Cedar Street and Main Street. It continues every Sunday through June, weather permitting. Vendors from across Connecticut and beyond offer a variety of new and used goods.
Among several flea markets in the region, the Big K is unique for a few reasons. It’s especially convenient for vendors, who can purchase a spot for $15 on any market morning rather than reserving one ahead of time. One spot consists of two parking spaces for a table or display. Visitors pay $1 admission, with free parking around the square.
Newington Kiwanis meetings are held monthly at Paradise Pizza in New Britain. Those interested in joining the club are encouraged to contact Dan Henry, at 860-667-2754 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or email@example.com.