"I like to go to the store by myself," Rutenberg said. "But I saw the (Carrefour) ad . . . and I decided to bring the kids down. I left them with the baby sitter so they could watch (the shows) while I went in to shop. That way, everybody could enjoy themselves."
The event, which opened Friday and runs through Labor Day, features almost continuous shows daily from 9:30 a.m. through 8 p.m.
Starting off each day's performance are jump-rope, tumbling and dancing exhibitions by youngsters selected through community competitions sponsored by the city's Department of Recreation.
The spotlight then turns to a professional high-diving act, complete with precision diving, frolicking, waterlogged clowns and a dive from an 80-foot platform into an eight-foot-deep tank of water.
Next, world-champion gymnast Kurt Thomas and his troupe of gymnasts take the stage for a go on the balance beam, the high-bar, the uneven bars and the pommel horse.
The final athletic event, the "Ramp and Tramp" show, features acrobatic skiers who take turns stunting on trampolines and ski-jumping off a 30-foot- high synthetic slope onto a 20-foot-by-20-foot air mattress.
Other highlights include drawings for prizes inside the store throughout the day and evening performances by string bands.
Carrefour, the French-owned super-supermarket that houses about 300,000 square feet under one roof, promotes itself as "The Everything Store," with products ranging from sporting goods to groceries to clothes and car supplies.
And Jim Hart, president of International Marketing Systems Inc., was hired as a private consultant by Carrefour to create a different kind of promotional event for the store.
"We wanted an event that would attract and entertain people in the 30-and- over crowd and the kids as well," Hart said.
"And then for the older crowd, we're bringing in the string bands so the they can come out with their chairs, maybe go into the store and buy a comforter, and then sit outside and enjoy a concert."
Joe Cranney, a cash operations manager and spokesman for Carrefour, pointed out that the Olympiad accentuates the store's goal of making shopping an event to be shared by the entire family.
"It's comfortable for a husband, wife and the kids to come shopping," Cranney said.
"The kids look at the toys, the husband looks at the hardware or what- have-you and the wife can go about her shopping. We like to think we're bringing families back together to shop as a family."
"It's a different kind of promotion," Rutenberg said. "It doesn't seem to be the type of thing you would do to drum up business. Having the shows out here (in the parking lot), you don't even have to go inside the store. But I think it's great - it's nice to have something free for a change."
The shows have attracted many youngsters from the adjoining neighborhoods.
Larry Spencer, 13, just moved to the area and was looking for a way to spend his final free days of summer.
"I don't have any friends around here yet," Spencer said. "I come over here to walk around, shop and maybe kill some time."
Cynthia Corisdeo, 10, also lives in the Woodhaven area, but she was attracted to the Olympiad for a specific reason.
"I like gymnastics, and I really wanted to see Kurt Thomas," Corisdeo said. "I was here yesterday and I'll probably be back tomorrow. I also have to pick up some school stuff while I'm here."
Thomas, who has gone from the bright lights and splendor of international competition to performing in shopping mall parking lots, explained his inclusion in events such as the Olympiad.
"Gymnastics is entertaining in any form," said Thomas, who won a gold medal at the 1978 World Championships and is a three-time American Cup all- around titlist.
"This is our professional side of the sport," Thomas said. "I look at it as being very fortunate to continue in gymnastics at the age of 32 and maybe help some companies out as well. As far as being in a parking lot, I mean I'll go anywhere to perform."
The performances - as well as the everyday operation of Carrefour, which uses nonunion workers - are being picketed by members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 1357.