Amal Hits the Boardwalk
Little Amal-the 12 foot tall puppet made in the likeness of a 10 year old Syrian refugee girl-visited Coney Island this week, greeting children on the famous boardwalk. The event was one of many planned for Amal’s New York City tour, which began on September 14th and will conclude on October 2nd; the large, partially animatronic puppet is traveling the globe to spread awareness of the plight facing refugees fleeing war-torn countries- and especially how it affects the youngest of the group.
Made as the crux of a performance art piece entitled, “The Walk” in 2021, Amal has so far traveled over 6,000 miles across 12 countries and has quickly become a symbol for human rights- as per her website. Her visit to New York City comes when migrants rights are at the forefront of the public’s consciousness, and is analogous to the inextricable link of the city together with its rich history as a boon for immigrants from around the globe-immigrants are the core of the city’s identity.
Amal’s sojourn to iconic Coney Island started down by the Parachute Jump, it’s silhouette recognized the world over, and moved up the boardwalk towards Luna Park. Controlled by three puppeteers, she was accompanied by students and staff of District 75 on her journey, who helped Amal take in the sights. She can be seen shaking hands with passing children, leaning on lamp posts to look out at the beach, and checking out the theme park from a distance. Her journey concluded in front of the famed Cyclone, where Amal packed up to continue her trek elsewhere.
So far, Little Amal has visited Grand Central Station, Times Square, among other noteworthy places, but her journey in New York City is far from over; she will be going to the Bronx to visit the High Bridge, Manhattan to visit Chinatown, taking the ferry to Staten Island to visit Snug Harbor, and many more. She won’t only be visiting famous landmarks in NYC, but will also be visiting areas around the city with a large immigrant population. She’s even slated to join a Syrian wedding in Brooklyn.
The odyssey that Amal has embarked on through New York thus far reflects poignantly on the meaning of her name: little hope. Amal’s walk, not just up Coney Island’s boardwalk, but throughout the world has connected with children who have similar backgrounds to the giant puppet, giving them hope. Amal’s trek across the five boroughs-and the globe-continues.
Photos by Bruce Cotler
Reporting By Emily Cotler