By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer
(Sept. 15, 2022) For 20 years, the Berlin Activities Depot has provided local parents with everything they need for their young families, from early childhood education to the occasional, well-earned date night.
On Saturday, the Activities Depot will celebrate its 20th anniversary.
“It feels awesome (to celebrate 20 years),” said Carmela Solito, who owns the Activities Depot with her husband, Mark. “There were times I didn’t know if we’d make it. There were quite a few obstacles to overcome, just building the business. But we made it.”
The celebration will be free and open to the public from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. There’ll be an open house featuring the Activities Depot’s classrooms, an open gym, giveaways and raffles every 30 minutes.
The celebration will feature light fare and snacks that are also among the selections they offer to children during the week.
Families and children can tour all of its facilities and participate in games with prizes at stake. There’ll also be a cake cutting and ribbon-cutting by the local chambers of commerce.
“We want to welcome people into our facility who haven’t seen it in a few years (because of covid),” Carmela Solito said.
The Activities Depot’s products and services are seemingly infinite. Offerings include infant and toddler care, preschool, school-age care, summer camps, birthday parties, recreational and competitive gymnastics, open gyms, parents’ nights out and even their own “grub hub” kitchen to serve children hot meals and healthy snacks.
There’s even room for adult fitness and for youngsters ages 4 to 7 “Ninja Nation” obstacle training.
There’s more in store, too. Carmela Solito said they plan to put in a walking track, an arcade, zip lines, slides and an “aerial-type” rope course.
Mark Solito will also be expanding their food offerings next year with a restaurant he’s named The Barking Chicken.
“The name comes from when I was younger and my father and I would go out to find good hotdog shops — wh
ere ‘barking’ comes from. And we’ve always loved wings — where the ‘chicken’ comes from.”
Mark Solito described the offerings as traditional American fare, featuring different kinds of specialty hot dogs, regular hot dogs, sauces, dry rubs, pulled pork, chicken sandwiches and hand-cut fries.
He hopes to break ground on the project this month.
Carmela Solito described the Activities Depot as an “upscale YMCA” but stressed that they prioritize making it accessible to as many people as possible.
“We’ve found ways to meet the needs of the community through state subsidies for kids who might not be able to afford our services,” she said. “We’ve been creative with how we promote all ages and ethnicities, all incomes of the area.”
She ascribed their success and ability to grow from a 1,000-square-foot facility in 2002 to a 30,000-square-foot-and-growing one today to their multi-generational, family-oriented approach.
“We have something for everybody,” she said. “It’s what Berlin needs. With us not having any type of sports complex or YMCA or big facilities that you find all over the world, it is a multi-generational approach where we cater to the whole family.”
“We’re just looking to fill the needs of the community and we’re hoping we get a big crowd on Saturday for the party. We feel we’ve done a lot around the community and we just want to celebrate with everybody.”
For more information about the 20th Anniversary Celebration or the Berlin Activities Depot in general, visit https://www.berlinactivitiesdepot.com.