My favorite part of the fall season is gearing up for Halloween. As a grandmother of three, nothing is more exciting than taking my little ones to all of the great events Parks has to offer citywide. Queens is hosting seven fall festivals, including one in Bayswater Park on Sunday, October 13th. Every weekend there is something fun and free to do. Pick out free pumpkins for Halloween at Pumpkinfest in Central Park on Saturday, October 26th. And you can join our Haunted Lantern Tour right here in Queens in beautiful Fort Totten on Saturday, October 26th, or test your nerves in the haunted house at Shocktoberfest, which takes place at the Playground for All Children in Queens on October 27th.
So put on a sweater and get out there. On Sunday, October 6th at 1 pm, join us for the Kid’s Scavenger Hunt in Clove Lakes Park, Staten Island. On Sunday, October 13th from noon to 3pm, it’s Raptorfest in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Come explore the night sky and stars on a crisp autumn night on Sunday, October 26th at 7pm at the Van Cortlandt Nature Center in the Bronx. And don’t miss celebrating Manhattan’s only remaining lighthouse at the 21st Annual Little Red Lighthouse Festival on Saturday, October 12th from noon to 4pm (come early to get free tickets for tours of the Lighthouse, which get snapped up quickly). This fun and free event includes readings of the children’s book The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge, fishing clinics, live entertainment, food vendors, and activities for the whole family!
One of NYC Parks’ partners, the City Parks Foundation, offers a traveling puppet show you simply don’t want to miss this season. The CityParksPuppetMobile is the oldest continually operating company of its kind in the country, and it presents free performances and puppet-making workshops in neighborhood parks, recreation centers and schools throughout New York City. It is equipped with a stage and staff of professional puppeteers, and it brings entertainment to 50,000 children and families each year. This month, you can catch performances of “Little Red Riding Hood” in Willowbrook Park, Staten Island, on Saturday, October 12th at 1pm and 3pm, in Forest Park, Queens on Saturday, October 19th at 2pm, and in Central Park on Saturday, October 26th. For more information, go to http://www.cityparksfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Puppet-Mob....
If you do find yourself in Forest Park for that puppet show, don’t forget to stop by for a ride on the Muller carousel, with its 49 horses, a lion, a tiger, a deer, and two chariots. The carousel also contains an original carousel band organ. Today, New York City Parks also operates carousels in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, Central Park in Manhattan, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, and Willowbrook Park in Staten Island. A spectacular new one is underway in Battery Park and will be ready for your visit soon, but not quite yet! For more information on carousels at NYC Parks, go to http://www.nycgovparks.org/about/history/carousels.
And remember, right here in your own neighborhood is one of the best recreation centers in the NYC Parks system with activities and classes for the kids from art and computers to basketball, at the Sorrentino Recreation Center. Sorrentino Recreation Center is free for kids through age 17.
For more information on the hundreds of fun things to do in October and all season, and hours and details for our fantastic recreation centers and fitness programs, go to www.nyc.gov/parks.
Whatever you choose, it’s definitely time to Go Park! Iris Rodriguez-Rosa is the NYC Parks Chief of Recreation for the borough of Queens