Saturday, November 28, 2015

Tree Lighting SKATE-tacular

We’re excited to announce the start of a new Bryant Park tradition this year. Introducing The Tree Lighting SKATE-tacular!

This year’s Tree Lighting marks the debut of a brand new holiday story, The Lights Before Christmas, written just for Bryant Park by award-winning playwright Jon Caren. Narrated by legendary New York actor Danny Aiello, this show on ice includes cast of world-renowned skaters:
  • Nancy Kerrigan, two-time Olympic medalist
  • Brian Boitano, Olympic Gold Medalist and 1st American to land a triple axel
  • Johnny Weir, two-time Olympian and crowd favorite
  • Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Olympic Gold Medalists who competed on Dancing with the Stars
  • The Haydenettes, 2015 National Gold Medalists and the most successful US synchronized skating team
The evening features music from Big Band Holidays, a new album by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. It all culminates in the lighting of our 8,000 pound 55-foot Norway Spruce, decorated with over 3,000 ornaments and 30,000 lights.

Last year's Tree Lighting; Photo by Angelito Jusay

Join us early and explore the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park, our seasonal destination that features a 17,000 square-foot ice skating rink, a glass-enclosed restaurant and an open-air market for holiday shopping under the glow of the city’s lights.

As this year’s Tree Lighting SKATE-tacular coincides with Giving Tuesday and World AIDS Day; Bank of America partner, VISA, is contributing $.30 to (RED) for every purchase made at participating Winter Village merchants with a Bank of America credit or debit card, helping us sustain the season of giving at Bryant Park and spotlighting (RED) and the impact of their efforts to eradicate AIDS.

We invite the public to join us on the ice after the tree is lit for a night of skating along to live music presented by The Chris Pattishall All Star Ensemble, curated by Jazz at Lincoln Center. 

Once the Christmas Tree is lit, you will have until January 10 to view it in person.

Tuesday, December 1, 6pm
Made possible by Bank of America

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

We're Thankful For...

It's Thanksgiving week! In the run-up to this week, we've talked about the ways you can celebrate Thanksgiving right here at the park and the history of the parade. Today, we'll talk about what we're thankful for.

Our Staff
Many hands make light work. And believe us, there are many, many hands involved in every aspect of Bryant Park. Our Sanitation, Hospitality, Horticulture, and Security crews are the hardest-working in the business. The Games Hosts, Public Programming Coordinators, and a fleet of interns make sure our daily activity areas and events go off without a hitch. Our Capital and Design Departments repair, build, and design every element in the park, from chairs to the Skate Pavilion. The Reading Room, Events, and Operations Departments make sure that their respective domains are running smoothly. Without the hard work and coordination of all of these parties, the park would not be the beautiful, clean, safe place that it is today. For this group of people, no job is too small and no dream is too big.

Bryant Park is thankful for all the people behind its operation and management.

Our Sponsors
We wouldn't be able to provide such high-quality offerings to the public without the support of our sponsors. Bank of America helps to make New York City's only free-admission rink, at the Bank of America Winter Village, a reality. HBO's partnership is invaluable to the quality and prestige of our Film Fest. The combined support from Athleta, Yoga Journal, and Flavorpill are the reason that we can host yoga classes for 1200 downward dogs on the lawn. Southwest Airlines® involvement allows us to have fantastic events at The Porch and giveaways at our events.

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is open through March 6.

Our Partners
From knitting to boot camp, writing workshops to fencing, tai chi to salsa lessons, the list of amazing and unusual free classes offered at the park goes on and on. Our wonderful partnerships with local businesses, studios, and producers gives Bryant Park the content that keeps the public engaged and coming back week after week.

Fencing lessons return in warm weather.

Our Patrons
The park wouldn't matter if it were empty of visitors. Thankfully, we see more and more visitors each year. We love that Bryant Park is the most densely populated urban park in the world, and want to keep it that way! From our 6 million visitors per year to our feathered friends (did you know that 120 species of birds have been spotted in the park?), Bryant Park truly is Manhattan's Town Square.

Thank you for spending time with us!

Our Eats
On this holiday centered first on thankfulness and second on eating, we would be remiss if we didn't recognize that food kiosk operators that keep the hungry crowds satisfied. Without our food kiosks and full-service dining establishments, patrons would leave the park the moment they felt a pang. Luckily, they can grab a quick bite without leaving the park!

With so much to be thankful for, Bryant Park is truly blessed!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tree Lighting SKATE-tacular: A Talk with Playwright Jon Caren

We are one week away from the Tree Lighting Skate-tacular at Bank of America Winter Village! The park’s Dan Fishman recently spoke with playwright Jon Caren, who wrote the evening’s original story, The Lights Before Christmas. It will be narrated for the first time on December 1 by famed New Yorker Danny Aiello and will feature skating performances by Olympic skaters Nancy Kerrigan, Brian Boitano, and Johnny Weir.
Playwright Jon Caren

Dan Fishman: Can you tell folks a bit about the story itself?

Jon Caren: We ended up with a story about personified light – the Light Family. Light usually illuminates other objects or actors, but in our story, we are celebrating light itself and turning light into memorable characters. It is also a story about giving what we can, no matter how small, and how we collectively shine brighter when we all allow our inner lights to shine. We hope it’s something that children and adults can appreciate for very different reasons. And it should be visually stunning as well!

DF: What most excited you about the opportunity to write this story?

JC: I wanted to be a part of something cultural in the city outside of a theater; to literally go outside and tell a story to such a large audience. And for free! I love New York and to contribute to the holiday spirit in the city was something that I felt passionate about. I wanted the story to feel fresh and witty, but heartwarming at the same time. There’s a cynicism in this world, especially today, that the holidays somehow melt away, even if just for a moment, and I wanted this show to be that moment. It’s an experience that will hopefully re-lift everybody’s spirits and remind everyone what truly matters. All together. In the cold. In a public park.

DF: What’s your background as a writer?

JC: I’m a playwright. I grew up in L.A. and I’ve spent quite a bit of time travelling between L.A. and New York writing for both TV and theater. Currently my play Need to Know is running in LA at a theater called Rogue Machine, and I am a member of the Primary Stages Writers Group in New York. I’ve had my plays produced in New York at The Flea, The Old Globe and The Keen Company and readings at theaters like MTC, The Roundabout, The New Group, Rattlestick, Ars Nova and EST. I’m also working on a musical with the talented Ryan Scott Oliver.

DF: Do you have an all-time favorite Christmas story?

JC: Well, I love the story of Scrooge. Scrooge was somebody who had to let go of his former self, a self that didn’t serve him – in a way it helped inspire this story. Our story is about a little star who doesn’t know how to shine, and feels ashamed of how little light she can give: only a twinkle here, a glimmer there. But through the process of watching her family give in different ways, she discovers her own unique ability to shine, and along with all the other stars, they shine brighter than ever.

DF: I know that you’ll be there on December 1. Are there particular things you are excited about?

JC: I will say it’s so exciting to do something with skaters of this caliber. Generally, to be able to contribute to an ambitious “theatrical experience” that hasn’t been done before quite like this, something that could be an inaugural event with iconic characters, that incorporates aspects of multimedia as well as skating? It’s a huge undertaking. But we’re using storytelling and even the (RED) charity, to unify an experience that hopefully speaks to all New Yorkers during the holidays, and I think it’s going to be really successful. It’s a real gift to the city.


Tree Lighting Skate-tacular 
Tuesday, December 1, 6pm
Made possible by Bank of America

Monday, November 23, 2015

Shop the Season: A Trip to the Saj Mahal

Anne K. takes a trip to Saj Mahal (kiosk L5) for lunch at Bank of America Winter Village Holiday Shops.  

I was admiring the holiday tree (and looking for lunch), when this little food display called out to me from an adjacent kiosk. 
Saj on site with chimney cake teasers in the background.

Actually, the guys working at the kiosk called out to me.  They were giving free samples of chimney cake. Never one to turn down anything made mostly of sugar, I stopped for the chimney cake stayed for the Saj. Saj is a generously topped warm pita. It comes in four varieties:  Original, PBJ, Guaca, and Mediterranean, and all are vegan. Bonus? Yes, bonus. Accidental veganism is the best. Plus, there aren't enough vegan options anywhere, so for real vegans this is great!

I went with the Mediterranean Saj, which has roasted eggplant, chickpeas, tahini sauce, and parsley all over a fluffy, warm pita. As I carried it across the park back to the office to indulge in a desk lunch, two people stopped me to ask where they could get their own slices of chickpea heaven. I directed them to the tree and forged on. 

Saj on a pile of photos of Opera singer Mary Garden, looking very much like 1980s-era Siouxie Siouxie.
I found the best way to eat it was to rip off pieces and fold them taco-style. Have a fork handy for the spillage. There will be spillage. It's delicious though, and very flavorful. I could eat this every day...

Holiday Shops at Bank of America Winter Village
Weekdays, 11am - 8pm
Saturdays, 10am - 9pm
Sundays, 10am - 6pm

Friday, November 20, 2015

Shop the Season: Tights for Fashionistas

Maureen from the exec office shows us her favorite picks from Zohara Art on Tights (kiosk K14) at Bank of America Winter Village Holiday Shops

In the winter, tights are an essential part of my wardrobe. They can add a pop of color or an element of texture; they can slim and shape; they can take a plain dress to the next level or add an air of gravity to a playful getup. In short, they are my favorite winter accessory.

My wardrobe tends to come in all shades of black, white, and gray (it also gives you a clue as to how long I've lived in New York City). I picked out the tights that would add the most interest to my monochrome style.

I find the mustard yellow color hard to wear next to my face, but wearing it as tights is a different story. I like the geometric pattern that adds interest.  

I am not the type to get tattoos, so leggings that feature puzzle pieces are the next best thing.

Having just moved to Brooklyn on a block filled with brownstones that look just like this, I am super charmed by this pair of tights. The design is unexpected for tights, and--better yet--fits with my color palate.

You can see that the shop has tons of options!

Holiday Shops at Bank of America Winter Village
Weekdays, 11am - 8pm
Saturdays, 10am - 9pm
Sundays, 10am - 6pm

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Guide to Thanksgiving 2015 in Bryant Park

Something else to be thankful for: Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park is open this Thanksgiving, as in previous years. 

You'll find something for all ages and personalities, from tasty snacks to charming gifts to an Olympic-sized skating rink with a festive soundtrack. There's no place as magical as New York City during the holidays, and at Bryant Park we take that to heart. 

Spider Man floats by on 6th Avenue as busy shoppers cluster in the park.

When you do arrive at the park, be sure to use entrances along 42nd Street, as those along 6th Avenue and 40th Street will be closed during the Thanksgiving parade. A full map of access restrictions is below. Things will return to normal around noon, after the festivities have passed the park.

To avoid parade-related closures, use the entrances along 42nd Street when you visit the park this Thanksgiving.

Some of the Park's food kiosks, restaurants and shops have special hours or offerings on Thanksgiving. We've summarized them below to help you plan your visit.

The Rink at Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park: 8am-10pm
The city's only free-admission, public ice skating rink is open and frozen, so strap on your skates.

The Holiday Shops: 11am-8pm

Although many Shops do choose to stay open on Thanksgiving, it is ultimately up to the individual vendors to decide. For this reason, certain Holiday Shops may close early or close entirely for the day.

Le Carrousel: 9am-10pm

At just $3 a ride, our carousel is a bargain, and its beautiful hand-painted animals present the perfect photo opportunity for your turkey tots.

Take your little ones for a ride on Le Carrousel this Thanksgiving.
Southwest Porch: 10am-10pm
Grab a hot cider (spiked if you're daring,) order a massive plate of delicious french fries, and catch up with a friend.

Food Kiosks: hours vary by kiosk

Kiosks will open as they can, depending on safety and pedestrian flow. All kiosks will be open at the close of the parade, which should be around noon, so you can count on a warm drink or delicious snack in the afternoon. The Park Shop and Info Kiosk will be open from 10am - 10pm.

Bryant Park Grill: 12pm-9pm

Cooking isn't for everyone. Luckily, the Bryant Park Grill has a special prix fix Thanksgiving menu, which includes the incredible-sounding 'roasted honey-pumpkin soup.' Reservations are available at (212) 840-6500.

Celsius: 12pm-10pm

The view of The Rink from Celsius's second floor can't be beat, and the outdoor heaters and affordable menu guarantee a toasty break from shopping or skating.

Remember to scan your Polar Perks card as you proceed through the park so you can earn rewards just for visiting. We hope to see you on Thanksgiving!

Bank of America Winter Village
Daily, 8am - 10pm
Through March 6

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Under Our Feet: The NYPL Stacks Undergo Renovation

If you've been on the Bryant Park Public Tour, you already know one of the park's most interesting secrets. For those of you who haven't joined us yet, we'll spill: underneath the lawn/rink area, there are two levels of storage for books and other research materials from the New York Public Library. Can you believe that 3.2 million volumes and half a million rolls of microfilm are underneath? The subterranean stacks are used for storage and closed to the public, but library patrons can request books housed in those stacks.

This photo is from the 1988 lawn excavation and stacks construction.
The stacks are in the news this week because they're being reconfigured to more efficiently hold the NYPL's growing research collection. Instead of using the trusty Dewey decimal system, the NYPL is reorganizing books by size. In addition, tracks will be installed to guide motorized carts, which will find books by bar code and deliver them to the NYPL patron within 40 minutes of the request. 
Other features of the research collection are movable shelves, which maximize storage space. In addition, the basement's climate and humidity control systems keep the temperature a cool 65 degrees with 40% humidity, a perfect atmosphere for a book.   
The reconfiguration is expected to finish in April 2016.
Read more about the activity beneath the Rink here.