May 17, 2009

Weekend Trifecta: A Park, A Bike, and A Dance

For those of us who frequent Washington Square Park, the first phase of the park's redesign, a subject of heated argument, looks like it's drawing to a close. The newly-designed northwest quadrant, along with the massive moving and reconfiguration of the central fountain, will open once again to the public this coming week. It's been long in the making, and though the park looks more formal and polished than it has in years, I would like to give the park a chance to prove itself. As the workers test the fountain, set in the remaining pieces of granite, and pick up the stray newspapers that have blown over the fences, the anticipation has become acute. I'll be delirious to explore the park again. My guess is that some of the apparent formality of the park will diminish rapidly. As soon as the visitors stake out favorite places on the new benches, sprawl out on the newly seeded lawns, or when my dogs find something interesting under a well-planted hosta, the park will have to cope with less-than-perfect creatures of all sorts.

Washington Square Park, before the reopening

NYC is celebrating Bike Month in May. After looking at the many new bike paths the city has been installing along the streets and fantasizing about breezing along the waterfront on two wheels, I bought my first bicycle in thirty years. I plan to ride it as soon as I overcome my fear. I have no plans at this time for a companion site, Cycling Off the Big Apple, as I think the helmet makes me look less than perfect.

bikes, Joyce Theater

While shopping for a bicycle on Saturday, I became distracted by dance. In Chelsea, I passed by the Joyce Theater on 8th Avenue, a venue favored for dance, and a little later I walked by the Dance Theater Workshop on West 19th St. Since I have plans to attend the gala opening of the American Ballet Theater (ABT) at Lincoln Center on Monday, I thought a dance walk might be a good idea. And then quite serendipitously, I turned the corner on Broadway only to bump into the annual Dance Parade. Group after group celebrating world dance traditions glided and spun down Broadway and down University Place and then east to Tompkins Park - belly dancers, Mexican folklorico, cajun, square, contra, ballet, alternative movement, jazz-inspired, African, and many more varieties. All made the spectators smile. While watching the parade on University Place, I saw many workers abandon their positions in nearby restaurants to come to the street and shout and cheer on their favorites. (See more Dance Parade images like this one on Flickr WOTBA).

Dance Parade

On Sunday, I accompanied friends to Bay Ridge in Brooklyn to watch the Norwegian-American Parade. Apparently, parades are plentiful in New York at this time of year. While we were walking to the subway at Union Square we caught some of the Veggie Pride Parade.

Images by Walking Off the Big Apple.

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