|In this issue:
Citi Pond, The Holiday Shops, and Celsius Open Thursday
The magical annual transformation of Bryant Park from summer playground to winter wonderland is now complete; so get ready, because Citi Pond and The Holiday Shop open on Thursday, October 27; and Celsius, the rink-side bar/restaurant, opens for dinner on Friday, October 28. Also on Friday is the official Grand Opening Celebration, from 6:00-7:00pm. Come and help us kick off the 2011-2012 holiday season. There’ll be skating performances, musical numbers, and more, and like all events at Bryant Park, it’s free and open to everyone.
It’s the seventh season for Citi Pond, NYC’s only free-admission ice skating rink, and all the amenities return: skate rental, skate sharpening, bag check, free lockers, and private lessons (for individuals or groups). There’s also a rink-side party room available for your own private party; the Ice Bites Café, serving hot chocolate and snacks; and the Citi Pond VIP Fastpass, giving you and your group VIP access and skate rental for one low price.
This will be the earliest opening yet for the Holiday Shops, giving New Yorkers more time than ever to browse for distinctive gifts from over 100 shops offering clothing, accessories, decorative items, gourmet foods, and more. And adding to the winter fun will once again be Celsius, Bryant Park’s gorgeous, glass-enclosed winter restaurant-bar. Spectacularly situated alongside Citi Pond, Celsius offers indoor and al fresco sitting, classic American bistro fare, and a full bar including specialty drinks. It’s a great spot for an after-work drink, a snack after skating, or a romantic meal.
To make it easier than ever to plan your trip to Bryant Park, each attraction now has its own enhanced website. Visit citipondatbryantpark.com to get essential information, keep up on events, and make reservations at the ice rink. For a roster of stores and a detailed map of the Holiday Shops, visit theholidayshopsatbryantpark.com; and for information and menus at Celsius, visit celsiusnyc.com. You’ll also find links to Facebook pages and Twitter feeds at each website.
Here are the important dates and times: Citi Pond and Celsius Pond are open every day through February 26. The basic hours of operation for Citi Pond are 8:00am-10:00pm, Sunday-Thursday; and 8:00am-midnight, Friday and Saturday. Watch for special holiday hours, of course, and all operations are weather-permitting. Celsius is open noon-10:00pm, Sunday-Wednesday; and noon-midnight, Thursday-Saturday. The Holiday Shops’ season runs from October 27 through January 8. Its operating hours are 11:00am-8:00pm, Monday-Friday; 10:00am-9:00pm on Saturday; and 10:00am-6:00pm on Sunday. Look for some tenants to extend their hours as Christmas Day approaches.
A word of advice: Citi Pond is one of Manhattan’s most popular holiday attractions. If you plan to attend in the evening or on weekends, please be prepared to wait in line. The hustle-bustle makes a visit to Citi Pond even more exciting, but if you prefer a less crowded rink, we suggest you come in the early morning or on a weekday afternoon. By the way, an early morning spin on Citi Pond is a fantastic way to clear your head before heading to work.
Also This Week at Bryant Park: Final Birding Tour and Halloween Party
Don’t forget that there is one more chance to participate in Bryant Park Fall Birding Tours. The last session of the season departs from Heiskell Plaza, at the NW corner of the park, Wednesday, October 26, at 8:00am. This has been an excellent season so far for birders at the park, as tour guide Gabriel Willow from New York City Audubon has led enthusiastic contingents to spot an impressive number of species.
Remember also that this Saturday, October 29, Le Carrousel at Bryant Park hosts its annual Halloween Party. Once again, Flaubert Frog will be there, this time assisted by his partner Cali Co Cat. Join them for games, stories, and songs, and also magic tricks by one of our favorite masters of prestidigitation, Justin The Magician. The party runs from 1:00-2:00pm and is free for all kids and their parents.
Uniqlo Opens on 34th Street
It’s here! The much-anticipated 34th Street debut of Uniqlo, the Japanese-owned fashion-forward retailer of clothes for men, women, and kids, came on Friday, October 21 with the opening of a 64,000 sq. ft. flagship store at 31 W. 34th Street. This is the capper to a remarkable string of major openings in our District. Just this year, we’ve welcomed Timberland, Levi’s, Footlocker's House of Hoops, and Mango. With the addition of Uniqlo, we can state unequivocally that the retail line-up on 34th Street has never been better.
Of course, all of this activity has Tricia Lewis very excited. Tricia, our dedicated blogger at Fashion Herald, the 34th Street Partnership’s guide to apparel shopping on 34th Street, was at the Uniqlo opening and filed this report.
A Glance at the Summer Past
With Bryant Park’s winter attractions revving up, this is a great time to take a look back at what was going on in the park during the summer. Our video intern Adrian Nienaber (to whom we bade a fond farewell last week) shot and edited this video, which includes snippets from the full gamut of warm-weather activity at Manhattan’s town square.
Amazing to think that, in the same space where people will soon be skating and shopping for gifts, visitors just a few weeks ago were enjoying live music, author appearances, poetry reading, free classes in yoga, tai chi, knitting, and writing, and so many other free activities and programs.
Chelsea Classes Well-Attended
Attendance at the Chelsea Improvement Company’s free classes was excellent all summer long, despite weather ranging from brutally hot to unseasonably damp.
Leading the way once again was the sensational Sunset Salsa, conducted by Talia Castro-Pozo and sponsored by TAJ Lounge and Basic Ballroom. In what has become a runaway hit, 2,716 folks (including class participants and folks enjoying the chance to dance afterwards) attended 12 sessions at the Chelsea Triangle. That’s 226 per session. Also at the Triangle, 461 people attended 9 classes in Capoeira, the Afro-Brazilian dance movement taught by Professor Tiba from Capoeira Luanda. That’s an impressive 51 per session.
Over at 14th Street Park, yoga classes conducted by instructors from the Laughing Lotus Yoga Center drew 1,016 participants to nine sessions, an average of 113 per date, while Belly Dancing/Pilates classes led by Elizabeth Schneider drew 63 participants.
The summer of activities was topped off with the successful Malaysia Noodle Festival, presented by Malaysia Kitchen for the World and MATRADE, at the Chelsea Triangle on September 27. These classes and events add excitement and help create a sense of place for our corner of Chelsea. We thank all our sponsors, instructors, and participants.
Bryant Park Welcomes New Community College
Some students have all the luck. In September, Governor Cuomo approved the creation of The New Community College, the first new college on the CUNY system in 40 years, at 50 W. 40th Street, the former site of the Katharine Gibbs School, right across from Bryant Park. Classes are slated to begin in September of 2012, with 500 students expected to enroll. This will be the seventh community college in the CUNY system and will offer “fast-track” associated degree. Bryant Park Corporation welcomes Dr. Scott Evenbeck, the new college’s President, along with the faculty, staff, and student body, and urges all to visit the park often.
The Bottom Line
The Reading Room at Bryant Park, which closed on October 13 to make way for The Holiday Shops, enjoyed a year of record attendance at its signature Word for Word series. A total of 9,380 people came to see WFW events in 2011, compared to 7,734 last year. While attendance was up in all categories, the most dramatic boosts came in Poetry and Non-Fiction. Poetry drew 1,256, an increase of more than 100% over last year, while Non-Fiction, helped by the popularity of our Civil War Series, had 1,303 attendees, a three-fold increase over 2010.
The Southwest Porch
Bryant Park Fall Birding Tours
Wednesdays: 8:00-9:00am, departs from 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue
Bryant Park Games
Chess and Backgammon
Ping Pong at The Tables
Bryant Park Events
Halloween Party at Le Carrousel
Saturday: October 29, 1:00-2:00pm
Citi Pond at Bryant Park – Opens Thursday, October 27
Friday & Saturday, 8:00am-midnight
Celsius – Opens Thursday, October 27
The Holiday Shops at Bryant Park – Opens Thursday, October 27
Citi Pond Events
Grand Opening Celebration
Friday: October 28, 5:00-6:00pm
Fall Fest at Citi Pond
Saturday: October 29, 11:00am-4:00pm
Columbia Freeze Tour – Omni Jacket Giveaway
Sunday: October 30, 12:00-11:00pm
Monday: October 31, 12:00-10:00pm