Friday, September 23, 2016

Square Dance 2016 Raffle Prizes and Rules

Bryant Park Square Dance is not only a fantastic time to try your hand at the Virginia Reel, or to perfect your trick roping technique; it is also the perfect opportunity to try your hand at a game of chance!

We're raffling off a pair of Southwest Air® go-anywhere tickets--yes, you really can choose your destination!--so start thinking of which pardner you'd like to take with you. We also have tons of great prizes from Bryant Park businesses, including the Bryant Park Shop and several of our in-park food kiosks. Did we mention that the raffle entry is free? One entry per person, please.

When you win a raffle prize, you'll be jumping for joy!
Photo: Angelito Jusay Photography.
Entry for the raffles opens at the event start time (6pm on Friday, and 3pm on Saturday), and closes at 7:15pm each day. The Bryant Park prizes will be called on-site at 7:30pm, so make sure you stick around until then. Winners must be present to claim their prize.

The winner of the airline tickets will be randomly chosen on Monday, September 26 and notified by e-mail (valid e-mails only). The winner will have until September 30 at 12pm EST to claim the tickets. If the tickets are not claimed, a different winner will be randomly chosen, and so on, until the tickets are claimed.

Best of luck out there, cowpokes!

Bryant Park Square Dance
Friday, September 23
6pm - 9pm
Saturday, September 24
3pm - 9pm
The Lawn

Thursday, September 22, 2016

NYC Estuary A Welcome Stopover for Diverse Bird Life

Over the last few years, we have cultivated a relationship with the NYC Audubon, resulting in biweekly Birding Tours of the park during migration. We've been delighted as our Audubon Guide Gabriel Willowteaches us about the avian life of NYC, and helps us spot some of these magnificent creatures up close. Now Gabriel shares his experiences in the park.

Have you noticed a hint of fall in the air recently? The past few nights & mornings have been cool & brisk, although the official Autumnal Equinox isn't for a few days yet (it will fall on today, September 22), fall migration is well underway.

As I have discussed in past Bryant Park Blog posts, the park, like other green spaces in NYC, becomes a hotbed of bird activity during the spring & fall migration seasons. But what is it about the park's location, and our city's location, that makes this area so rich in bird life? Despite the frequent jokes I hear about how the only birds we must see on our urban bird walks are pigeons, NYC has an exceptionally high diversity of birds. The number of species seen in Bryant Park to date stands at 121 species!

New York City is unusual in that it is an archipelago of islands (plus one peninsula, The Bronx). We are located at the confluence of the Hudson River as it empties into NY Harbor, and the East River, which is really a tidal strait connecting NY Harbor to Long Island Sound. There are also a number of smaller rivers, creeks and streams (such as the Bronx River) emptying into these larger waterways.

This landscape, where fresh water & salt water mix & meet the land, is called an estuary. Acre-for-acre, estuaries are the second-richest ecosystem on the planet, following tropical rainforests. Estuaries range from mud flats to salt marshes to mangrove swamps. They are where many species of fish spawn, due to more protected, shallower waters with lots of nutrients and fewer large predators. However there are still many predators: the abundant little fish attract many larger fish, which in turn attract many bird species, such as gulls, herons, egrets, osprey, and more.

Now, what does all this have to do with Bryant Park, you might well ask? Well, it's easy to forget in the hustle and bustle of midtown that in NYC we're never far from the coast, and always part of a larger estuary ecosystem. We had a reminder of this fact on a recent Bryant Park walk, when a Herring Gull (the classic "seagull", although that's a bit of a misnomer, as it is generally found along the coast, and not out to sea) went winging by down 42nd Street. Gulls can turn up anywhere in the city!

Also, many landbird species, such as warblers, sparrows, and swallows follow the coastline during migration. This could be because of more favorable steady winds, or because it forms a highway-like landmark for them to follow (southward, in this case).

Birders seek avian sightings. 

As it happens, NYC is located at a major turn in the road: the coastline bends from a primarily east-west orientation (from the coastal Maritime Provinces of Canada down through New England to Long Island) to a primarily north-south orientation (from NYC all the way to the tip of Florida). This makes our region a natural stopping point as birds shift direction: they are funneled into NYC as they make their way south-west down the New England coast and along Long Island.

Historically, this would have been an exceptionally rich area with a diverse range of habitats: coastal dunes, salt marshes, and mud flats; sandy oak-pine forests interspersed with grassy prairies on Long Island and along the immediate coasts; and hardwood oak/chestnut/maple forests in the upland areas atop the Palisades or in the hillier reaches of Manhattan. Things have changed over the years: the American Chestnut is nearly extinct, largely wiped out a century ago by chestnut blight, and most of our area's forests have been cut and our marshes filled or drained. It is a testament to the richness of this estuary ecosystem that we still have over 350 species of birds recorded in Brooklyn alone, and over 200 species of fish in the Hudson River. This in spite of centuries of radical habitat alteration, pollution, and the construction of a canyon-like habitat of glassy skyscrapers (which pose a major obstacle and threat to migrating birds), every fall NYC still fills with birds from points north, heading to warmer regions to the south.

With this bigger picture in mind, I hope you will join me in Bryant Park on a Monday morning at 8am or Thursday evening at 5pm to see what bird species have shown up in this little urban oasis.

Fall Birding Tours
September 12 - October 17
Mondays, 8am-9am
Thursdays, 5pm-6pm

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Our Fifth Annual Square Dance: A Midtown Hoedown

Four years ago we set out to create a new fall tradition here at Bryant Park by introducing Square Dancing to our line-up of events. Little did we know that our little Midtown hoedown would grow from an intimate affair on the Fountain Terrace to an all-encompassing country festival with a cult-like following. We're excited to announce that our Fifth Annual Square Dance will be held September 23rd and 24th.

Friday, Sept 23: 6pm - 9pm
Saturday, Sept 24: 3pm - 9pm

In the past we've spread out our Square Dance over three days, with two evening dances on Friday and Saturday and a kid friendly event during the afternoon on Sunday. This year we're changing it up by moving to a two-day schedule but extending our Saturday programming. That's the same number of barn-stomping hours, but now with a family-friendly Saturday afternoon ramping up into an evening party.

Do-si-do into the night with live-music and a real Barn Dance caller. Photo: Angelito Jusay Photography.
As always, we'll have our signature dancing with featured called Dave Harvey of NYC Barn Dance returning this year to teach some steps alongside the boot-stomping stylings of the Calamity Janes on Friday night and the Backyard Boys and The Remedies on Saturday. Square dance sets on Saturday will begin around 3:30pm and 6:30pm, with live folk and bluegrass music in between.

So you've learned to spin rope, but can you catch a calf? Find out with our new 'Roping Roper.' Photo: Angelito Jusay Photography.
Due to overwhelming popularity, we're expanding our roping offerings again. In addition to on-site trick roping instruction we’ll also teach guests how to lasso an object and then give you a chance to test out your skills with our Rodeo Roper, featuring a mechanical calf on a track which you'll need to rope from a distance. Are you up for the challenge?
If you find yourself drained from dancing, we've got plenty of bites from Hester Street Fair to help you refuel. Photo: Angelito Jusay Photography

Come with an appetite, because we've got finger-licking fixings from the Hester Street Fair, and beer and wine by Ark Restaurants, both available for purchase on-site. New this year will be our Bryant Park Farmers Market with local produce, organic goods, fresh-cut flowers, and more from BensidounAfter you’ve had your fill, head on over to the Southwest Airlines Lounge, complete with Adirondack chairs, to hang your hat and rest your feet.

From 3pm – 6pm on Saturday, little cowboys and cowgirls will want to mosey on over to the northwest corner of the lawn for Kids Corner. We’ll have western-themed crafts and sack races. Additionally, square dance instruction during this time will be at its kid-friendliest, featuring dances that are fun and do-si-doable by the whole family.

All weekend, we'll have western-themed giveaways by the wagon-load. You can also ham it up at our #bpsquaredance photo opps, challenge your friends to a game of cornhole, and enter the raffle for our grand prize - two round-trip airline tickets, courtesy of Southwest Airlines! We'll also have a few surprises revealed the day-of, so keep an eye out.

Country festive attire is encouraged. Be there and be square!

Bryant Park Square Dance
September 23, 6 - 9pm
September 24, 3 - 9pm
The Lawn

Monday, September 12, 2016

Fall 2016 Birding Tour List of Sightings

Bryant Park's Birding Tours take place during Spring and Fall migrations, when dozens of species use the park as a pit stop on their seasonal journeys. Over the years, 120 unique species of bird have been spotted in Bryant Park. This list will be updated with each tour's list of sightings.

Monday, September 12
Rock pigeon, House sparrow, Gray catbird, Common yellowthroat, Herring gull, Waterthrush, Song sparrow, White-throated sparrow, Ovenbird

Thursday, September 15
Gray catbird, Rock pigeon, Common yellowthroat, House sparrow, Ovenbird, European starling

Monday, September 19
Rock pigeon, European starling, House sparrow, Common yellowthroat, Song sparrow, White-throated sparrow, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Ovenbird

Thursday, September 22
Rock Pigeon, Gray Catbird, Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Northern Parula, House Sparrow

Look up! 
Fall Birding Tours
September 12 - October 17
Mondays, 8am-9am
Thursdays, 5pm-6pm

Thursday, September 1, 2016

A Special Boot Camp Visit Kicks Things Into High Gear

Wednesday morning's Boot Camp with The Rise NYC is a surefire way to start your day off with plenty of sweat, but even more high-fives and new friends.

Last Wednesday, cadets and staff from West Point joined the workout, further expanding the circle of friends. The workout was the Rise's best-attended yet, with 106 participants. The West Point crew led part of the workout, and presented the group with a certificate of appreciation at the end.

The certificate reads, in part:
"For leading an extraordinary physical training for members of West Point's annual Strategic Planning Symposium. The robust workout allowed members of all levels of fitness to push themselves towards physical improvement."

Now the question is, which group regularly works out harder: the cadets or the Rise? You can find out yourself by joining one of the Rise's workouts every Wednesday at 6:30am.

...and other bodyweight exercises got the blood pumping.
Running intervals were interspersed in between calisthenic exercises.
The superintendent of West Point presented the boot camp with a Certificate of Appreciation.
After class, everyone posed for a sweaty and satisfied group photo.

Wednesdays, 6:30am
Fountain Terrace

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Golfers Test Their Mettle at August Putting Championship

Our August Putting Championship took place at the Putting Green this past Thursday. Participants with qualifying scores from any of our three preceding Qualifying Rounds were invited to compete at the Championship. Competition was fierce this year; there was a five-way tie for second place, and it took four extra rounds of putting to determine the second and third place winners. Participants came from far and wide, and one even delayed her weekend trip so she could compete in the tournament.

Dennis, first place, has participated in the tournament in previous years and looks forward to it every year. He came from his office at 40th Street and Third Avenue, which is a pretty decent hike for lunch.

Migda, second place, was on vacation from Poland. Bryant Park is his favorite NYC park; he was visiting NYC for the third time and stayed for a month. He says he'll be back next August too, so he can participate in the tournament again.

Michael, third place, is a park regular who competes in tournaments at the Putting Green and Ping Pong areas.

Prizes were generously provided by Golfsmith, a park neighbor. First place received a Calloway driver, $100 gift certicificate to Golfsmith, and a trophy. Second and third won $50 gift certificates to the store.
This is all to say, the tournaments are becoming a special thing that people look forward to year after year. Mark your calendar for August 2017 for the next August Putting Tournament!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Film Fest Finale: Set Phasers to Fun

Curious about our film selection process for the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival presented by Bank of America? We'll explain the significance of tonight's pick, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982). Read up and join us this evening for the main attraction!

While Film Fest tends to draw a crowd regardless of what we feature, occasionally we observe chatter on social media questioning our taste in films:

Aside from our 'classics' rule, that all films shown must be 30 years or older (our first film, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, turned 30 this year) there are a variety of considerations that go into choosing what will make it to our big screen.

In the case of tonight's film, we wanted to honor the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. The massive film and television franchise made its start in 1966 with a weekly series on NBC and its fan base has only continued to grow since then. Celebrations are taking place all over the city and we wanted to get in on the action.

This year, the Star Trek Convention returns to New York City, decades after New York played host to the first ever convention in 1972. Starting next week, September 2-4, the Javits Center will be hosting Star Trek: Mission New York with cast photo-ops, original set pieces and props, and all sorts of exclusive trek merchandise. With this much Trek in the city, can you blame us for getting in the spirit?

The Intrepid Museum is hosting a dedicated exhibit: The Starfleet Academy Experience to honor the anniversary, and is featuring special Star Trek–themed programs and tours.

When it comes to why we chose this particular Star Trek film, the answer is simple:

“Khan” is considered by many to be the best movie of the cult sci-fi series. While non-Trekkies might not understand at first, for the initiated, Khan is a legendary film. Many will delight in seeing the Starship Enterprise manned by the old guard with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and George Takei, with Ricardo Montalban playing the villainous Khan.

To celebrate the film as well as our last screening of the 2016 Film Fest season, guests can expect a few surprises on site. Stop by the Bank of America tent to have your photo taken as captain of the Enterprise, and grab some free popcorn and water while you're at it.

If you're looking for another fun pre-show photo-op, the canopy at our neighbor, 7 Bryant Park, bears a striking resemblance to the Starship Enterprise

Prepare to settle in for an interstellar adventure.

Hopefully you can see that we have a ton of great reasons for ending our film fest season with this iconic film. And with beautiful weather this evening, get ready to "set your phasers to fun!"

HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival presented by Bank of America
Mondays, June 20 - August 22
Lawn opens at 5pm