Cheryl Makin, @CherylMakin 4:36 p.m. EDT October 16, 2014
Photos: Kathy Johnson/MyCentralJersey, Courier News
Wednesday’s Octoberfest is one of many annual events and tours hosted on the 87 acres of Greek’s Playland. The free parties are for disabled and disadvantaged youth and adults.
MONROE – “You can feel the love,” said The Greek of the annual Octoberfest event hosted at Greek’s Playland on Spotswood Englishtown Road. Peals of laughter and giggles emanate from the various rooms set up for some 450 disabled children and adults. From the Dixieland band and Spiderman greeting the guests to the spin art and sand art activities to the balloon animals and face painting, the event was a break from the typical school day.
With a life mission to help others, particularly the disabled and disadvantaged, The Greek, legally known as Spiro Drake, fulfills his goals through Greek’s Playland. Wednesday’s Octoberfest is one of many annual events and tours hosted on the 87 acres.
“Oh he is so happy,” said Laura Lowande, a teacher’s assistant with the Douglass Developmental Disability Center (DDDC), of the nonverbal toddler with the huge smile she was holding. “We come every year. All the kids love it. They adore all the activities.”
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Greek’s Playland in Monroe is the most unique park of its kind in the entire world. It would not be an exaggeration because, to our knowledge, there are no other parks of its kind anywhere else in the world!
In fact, it’s such an unusual place that it actually defies definition, but certainly not description. Greek’s Playland is an 87-acre theme park, without any real theme other than the fruitful imagination of a single visionary individual known simply as “The Greek.”
Greek’s Playland is only one of the names that this place had been called over the years, and there are no signs anywhere that actually bear that name. Some know it better as Display World or the Stone Museum. These days, the moniker you will see when you enter through the vividly colored gates on Spotswood-Englishtown Road is “Garden Falls.”
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“I’m a non-performing gigolo,” the Greek says by way of introduction,
and where, exactly, do you go from there?
You go to every crazy nook and corner of Greek’s Playland in Monroe, that’s where, your Jeep slip-sliding through the snow in the wake of a plow run by Nick Wang.
The Playland, on 87 acres off Spotswood-Englishtown Road, is part playground, part amusement park, part ongoing art installation, a Mad Hatterish collection of buildings, sculptures and stuff.
There’s a 30-foot-high clown made of recycled materials – telephone poles for legs, an oil tank for a torso, Astroturf for pants and an air conditioner for a hat.
Monroe the Dino, a 20-foot-high dinosaur who growls ferociously, also a recycled-material wonder.
Outside his stone museum, filled with rocks and minerals from around the world, stands
a Cobra helicopter and M60 Army tank. Where did he get the tank?
“The Army; I called them up,” says the Greek, as if this is something anyone can do. “It took five years. They give it to you for free, but you have to pay for transportation.”
You want an Army tank, or a growling 20-foot dinosaur, or a park made of truck tires, you go to the Greek.