c. Virginia Freire

Spring Break in Prospect Park

April 3, 2024

Enjoy your Spring Break with Prospect Park Alliance! Visit Prospect Park for family-friendly activities at Prospect Park Audubon Center, Carousel and LeFrak Center at Lakeside.

Nature Exploration Activities
Prospect Park Audubon Center 
Monday, April 22 – Tuesday, April 30

The ingredients needed to produce the next generation of trees are found within nuts, cones and fruit. Join a naturalist and learn about seeds and the birds who eat them through hands-on crafts and activities. Continue your learning outside the park by potting your own take home plant.

  • Savvy Seeds 12 – 1 pm: Get hands-on with a few of Prospect Park’s Savvy seeds. Learn how different plants produce offspring by persuading pollinators and how they protect and disperse their seeds. 
  • Sow a Seed 1 – 2 pm: Learn about the survival needs of seeds and have the opportunity to plant a seed in your own custom planter made out of recycled paper.
  • Animal Encounter 2 – 3 pm: Join Alliance Naturalists in learning more about the animals in the Audubon Center’s Collection. 
  • Nature on the Go! 3 – 4 pm: An Alliance Naturalist will lead children and families to areas near the Audubon Center, where you can learn about the nature that is all around us.

Roller Skating in Prospect Park
LeFrak Center at Lakeside
Daily beginning Thursday, April 18

Mark your calendars, it’s almost time to kick-off the roller skating season in Prospect Park! Roll into spring starting Thursday, April 18 for daily roller skating sessions in the heart of Brooklyn’s Backyard. Visit prospectpark.org/lakeside for more details.

Carousel Rides
Children’s Corner, $3 per ride, $13 for a book of 5 tickets 
Monday, April 22 – Tuesday, April 30, 12-5pm

Celebrate the start of spring with a ride on Prospect Park’s beloved 1912 Carousel. Free with Prospect Park Alliance Family Supporter membership or higher. Join the Alliance at the Family Supporter level or above and enjoy unlimited free rides!

Tennis Center April Adult + Junior Holiday Programs

April 22-26, 2024 1–4 pm, $85 per day
Players must register in advance.

The Prospect Park Tennis Center offers intensive group instruction for adults and children of all levels of experience. Our accomplished staff of tennis professionals gives players personal attention while they acquire game fundamentals and increase their skill level.

c. Prospect Park Alliance

Get to Know the New Carousel Manager

April 2, 2024

Have you met the friendly new face at Prospect Park’s beloved Carousel? Longtime Brooklynite, David Rabig, is Prospect Park Alliance’s new Carousel Manager. The Carousel season has kicked off and park goers can stop by the historic park destination from 12 – 5 pm on Thursdays – Sundays to take a spin and say hello to David. As the season kicks off, get to know David and hear about his passion for the power of imagination and excitement for the season ahead.

With a lifelong passion for hospitality, imagination and working with kids, David has lived near Prospect Park for many years and wondered if there was a place for him in the park and what that might look like. “When I saw the Carousel Manager job description–it hit so many points that I felt were really well suited for me and merged my experiences working with kids, maintenance handiwork and hospitality. I’m just so thrilled to be a part of it.” 

Previously, David worked at a theater education company called Child’s Play New York which hosts afterschool programs for elementary school aged kids. In his search for this role, David shares, “It’s important to me to be in a role where I can be around kids and embrace imaginative play, laughter and joy.” 

David shares his awe in the craftsmanship behind the carousel “It’s remarkable just how unbelievably solid it is. It reminds me a lot of The Cyclone on Coney Island, which works incredibly well and is really cool since it’s been around for more than 100 years.” The Carousel’s unique and storied carving style is also a highlight, “I feel like the horses may look a little scary at first and then you start looking at more details and they become more beautiful the more you look at them. The Coney Island style that the Carousel’s artist, Charles Carmel, used shows the horses in-action huffing and puffing and bearing their teeth in a really unique way.” 

In the season ahead, David most looks forward to crafting an environment where kids are smiling and laughing. “Kids show up waiting at the gate for the Carousel to open and the wonder that you see in their eyes is just fantastic.” David says his main goal in the role is simple: to make everyone feel like they belong at the Carousel; that they are welcome there and that it’s a place for kids to be themselves. For the few minutes that the ride is on, David hopes that kids can feel like that’s their horse, and can experience the feeling of excitement and specialness that comes with that.

Stop by and see the beloved Carousel horses and say hello to David this season from from 12 – 5 pm on Thursday – Sunday and holidays.

c. Ken Brown

Margaret Ring: Mayor of Prospect Park

June 6, 2023

If you’ve taken a ride on Prospect Park’s carousel, rented a paddle boat, or visited the Parade Ground or former Wollman Rink in the past 26 years, you’ve likely come across–and befriended–Margaret Ring. Margaret is Prospect Park Alliance’s former Carousel Manager and a staff member for over two-and-a-half decades, who has just celebrated her retirement after a storied tenure in Brooklyn’s Backyard. Prospect Park Alliance celebrated her send-off with a carousel horse dedicated to her legacy in the park.

A native Brooklynite, Margaret is a familiar and beloved face to thousands of regular park goers who think of her fondly as “The Mayor of Prospect Park.” A local celebrity, Margaret has made generations of families feel welcome in the park, often greeting old friends and new faces in her golf cart alongside her Shih Tzu, Percy.

Reflecting on her tenure at so many distinct sites across the park, it is clear that the community, connections, and friendships Margaret established at each park location are at the heart of her work. “I have a favorite memory at each site. From place-to-place, I saw and got to know the same people: the same people visited the carousel and rode the paddle boats. People playing soccer at the Parade Ground always came to the skating rink, so it was really just wonderful to experience each of those places.” The wide network of friends and community that Margaret has built in her role at the Alliance spans far beyond the park. “Something I’ll miss the most is walking down the street, or heading out on the train,” she says. “People know me, and I’ll hear ‘Prospect Park is in the house!’ That makes you feel good. If I, or the park, made them feel even a little bit better or happier, it means I’ve made their day–the whole park has.”

While her work with the Alliance dates back nearly 26 years, Margaret’s story in Prospect Park begins well before that. Margaret’s father ran track through Prospect Park, her parents got engaged here, and Margaret herself has carved her own legacy as a beloved presence and representative of all that our community holds dear about their park. “I’ve seen this park at its best, and I’ve seen this park at its worst, so I can be that true Brooklynite to say that if it weren’t for the Alliance, we wouldn’t have this beautiful park. I was that kid who saw Prospect Park first as a beautiful park, and then later as it was in disrepair before the Alliance, and when Prospect Park Alliance first made this park come back to life. The people of Brooklyn really did and do appreciate this—this is Brooklyn’s Backyard. It is the garden of Eden. It’s the jewel.”

Alliance staff, friends and family gather to celebrate Margaret’s lasting impact in Brooklyn’s Backyard. c. Ken Brown

Prospect Park Alliance President Morgan Monaco shares, “Margaret has been the steward of so many magical moments in the childhoods of people who now come back with their own kids. Margaret is behind what makes that magic happen: it’s the attention to detail, knowing how to go that extra mile for customer service and being that welcoming presence.” Without question, Margaret is one of the quintessential characters that makes Prospect Park Brooklyn’s Backyard.

When asked to reflect on her time in the park, Margaret’s response is enthusiastic. “You can’t beat this!” she says, in reference to the carousel. “It brings happiness to everyone, whether you’re 3 or 65 years old, everyone loves to come to the carousel. Now that I’m retiring, I’m not going to be here, but my horse will be. I feel very honored and privileged to have this. My little nephew really wanted this—and he’ll always come back knowing that this is Margaret’s horse!”

Carousel Horses Restored Ahead of Opening Day

April 13, 2022

Prospect Park’s Carousel reopens for the 2022 season on April 14! The Carousel has been a beloved staple of the park since 1912, and while countless rides on the stately horses and creatures have left a mark, you won’t find any chipped paint this year. This is thanks to Architectural Conservator Assya Plavskina’s meticulous work conserving and refining the carousel’s trademark details and colors, and original design.

The horses of Prospect Park’s Carousel last went through a major restoration in the late 1980s-early 1990s and were lovingly maintained by Lucio Schiavone until 2014. Plavskina started her work by stripping the figures of old varnish, removing flaking paint, and filled in areas of missing or failing paint, being careful to exactly match the paint already on the figures. The difficult task of matching colors required Plavskina to use her background in chemistry as a historical conservator to get the hues just right.

Learn more about Carousel operating days, tickets and hours!

c. Assya Plavskina

Plavsinka’s work also pays homage to the original roots of the carousel. “The design of the figures is heavy in gilding, as is typical of the work of Charles Carmel, the famous early-20th century carousel figure carver responsible for these figures, so it was important to make sure that this element was visible and prominent.” Plavskina used a metal leafing to match the existing gold and silver leaf.

“My intention was to stabilize all of the existing paint and gilding, fill in any particularly large areas of loss to match exactly what was intended to be there, and to ensure that all of the artistic finishes are well-protected against the intense use that the Carousel gets.”

c. Assya Plavskina

A fun-fact from the conservation process: before the work could get started, the figures needed a cleaning with soap that would not damage the paint. It’s common for conservators to turn to other trades when selecting appropriate tools, and in this case, Plavskina turned to the horse-care trade—the soap with which the Carousel horses were cleaned was actually intended for the cleaning of real horses!

The Carousel is one of the park’s most cherished and time-honored attractions for many park-goers, including Plavskina herself: “One of my favorite things about working on the Carousel was seeing the constant stream of children eagerly holding on to the closed railings, pointing out their favorite horses, and expressing how eager they were to ride again. Of course, they do not know, or care, that the horses may look identical to how they did 100 years ago, or the exact perfect color match of each paint, or what work goes into making sure that that paint remains stable and the Carousel remains running. But what is important is that they recognize their favorite horse, and they can continue to come back to the Carousel and feel the same feeling year after year. My mother-in-law used to come to the carousel with her own mother when she was a child in the 60s and 70s, and this year, she will be taking my children, her grandkids, to the Carousel. It is that continuation of history and community that conserving and maintaining the Carousel allows that is so beautiful to me.”

The Prospect Park Carousel is open Thursdays-Sundays, April-October. Learn more about tickets, discounts with Alliance membership, and booking a birthday party at the Carousel.

Prospect Park Carousel is a Treasure of New York

September 18, 2018

Prospect Park’s historic Carousel was recently a feature of THIRTEEN’s Treasures of New York, highlighted as an “Historic Gem in Brooklyn.” The segment tells the history of carousels in Prospect Park, including the current carousel, which was built in 1912 by one of the foremost carousel designers of the day, Charles Carmel. It came to the park in 1952, but fell into disrepair in the 1970s. In 1990, the newly formed Prospect Park Alliance—the non-profit that sustains, restores and advances the park—undertook the restoration of the Carousel in an effort to return this landmark to its original glory. The project was a great success, and today the Carousel and its 53 hand-carved horses (plus assorted dragons, giraffe and deer) is just one of the many attractions that draws millions of visitors to the park each year.

Watch the video feature: 

carousel_video.jpg

Today, the Carousel is one of Prospect Park’s most popular venue for children’s birthday parties! Learn more about having your next party at this beloved landmark. 

c. Paul Martinka

A Fond Farewell to Lucio Schiavone

October 19, 2016

“Tanti auguri” is what to say when next you see Lucio Schiavone. The Naples native and beloved Prospect Park Alliance Carousel manager will step down from his post of twenty-six years this coming December. 

Schiavone came to New York in 1963 after marrying his wife, an American. Having attended the Academy of Art in Italy, he pursued a career as a painter and sculptor, and in 1988 was hired by the Prospect Park Alliance to assist in the restoration of the Carousel. The Carousel’s 53 horses, as well as a lion, a giraffe, a deer and two dragon-pulled chariots, were carved in 1912 by Charles Carmel, one of the foremost carousel designers of his era. Shuttered in 1983, the Carousel was in a rough state by the time Lucio was hired. 

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Lucio recounting his first time seeing the ailing Carousel. “One horse didn’t have a head… the giraffe’s back legs were gone.” 

The Carousel restoration, the Alliance’s first capital project in the Park, took 18 months, during which a team including Schiavone reassembled the fifty-one horses and other assorted animals, and fixed the air-pumped Wurlitzer band organ. When the project was completed, Lucio was asked to stay on to run the daily operations of the Carousel, a task that he has relished for decades. “From then up to now, I’ve loved everything I’ve done here, all the kids smiling when they go around. I love the kids, and that’s why I’m still here.”

Because of Lucio’s efforts and meticulous attention to detail, the Prospect Park Carousel continues to be a magical, wonderful amusement for children and adults alike. Lucio’s positive and playful demeanor has brought immeasurable joy to the lives of Prospect Park’s millions of visitors over his career.

Help us kick off Lucio’s retirement on November 5 at 11:45 am at the Carousel! The Prospect Park Alliance will be commemorating Lucio’s significant contributions by naming a favorite horse “Lucio” in his honor, and offering free carousel rides from 12-1 pm. Stop by and to tell Lucio “ci vediamo,” until we meet again. 

RSVP and learn more about Lucio’s November 5 celebration.

Prospect Park Alliance Featured on NYC TV

October 23, 2015

Join TV host Dave Evans on a tour of things to do in Prospect Park! $9.99 with Dave Evans, an NYC Life program that highlights the best free or low-cost activities in the city, devoted a recent episode to Prospect Park. This episode highlights Prospect Park Alliance activities at Lefferts Historic House, the Audubon Center, the Carousel, Lakeside, and the Tennis Center, and also features an interview with Alliance President Sue Donoghue. Although it aired last week, the episode can be watched online at the NYC Media website.

Visit our calendar to learn about upcoming programs in Prospect Park.

 

Elizabeth Keegin Colley

8 Things to Enjoy this Spring

March 16, 2015

From family hikes with expert naturalists to performances by chart-topping entertainers, Prospect Park has you covered this spring. We’ve compiled our top eight concerts, programs and events not to miss this season. What are you looking forward to this spring? Share with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #ProspectParkSpring

1. Spring Break

You don’t have to go to the beach to have fun during this annual school break. Join the Alliance at some of your favorite Park destinations, which will have special programming throughout the week. Take a first spin of the season on the Park’s 1912 Carousel, enjoy nature programs at the Audubon Center, plant spring sprouts at the Lefferts Historic House and enjoy the start of the rollerskating season at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside.

2. Opening Day

Join us April 11 for the Alliance’s annual Opening Day celebration with the Prospect Park Baseball Association. Thousands of players march up Seventh Avenue accompanied by a marching band and other special guests to the Bandshell for the ceremonial first pitch of the season. Play ball!

3. Pop-up Audubon

On April 16, the Prospect Park Alliance introduces twice the Pop-Up Audubon fun with a second tent that explores the aquatic habitats of Prospect Park as well as Discovery Packs, ready-to-go kits filled with fun nature activities for families to explore the Park. April’s theme, Animal Clues, will investigate the birds and wildlife that make their home in the Park near water.

4. Party for the Park

Help support the Park you love on May 14 at the second annual Party for the Park, an unforgettable night of dancing, cocktails and small bites from some of Brooklyn’s favorite chefs and mixologists.

5. Celebrate Brooklyn!

Now in its 37th season, Celebrate Brooklyn! will rock the Bandshell starting June 3 with a free performance by the Queen of Funk, Chaka Khan. Other favorites in this year’s line up are Willie Nelson, Interpol and more. Check our website soon for the full calendar.

6. Lola Star’s Dreamland Disco 

Lola Star’s Dreamland Disco will return to the LeFrak Center at Lakeside for another season of weekly themed rollerskating dance parties featuring your favorite hits from the 1970s and ‘80s. 

7. New York Philharmonic

There are few experiences more peaceful than listening to the sounds of the New York Philharmonic as you’re stretched out on a blanket in the Long Meadow. Help celebrate the 50th anniversary of Concerts in the Park at this annual event, taking place this year on June 19. Members at the Arborist level and above will receive special access. Become a member today. 

8. Pop Up Dinner Brooklyn

Keep an eye out for the announcement of the second annual Pop-Up Dinner Brooklyn, an evening where thousands of Park lovers, dressed in white, picnic under the stars at secret location in Prospect Park.  See photos from last years’s event. Members will receive early access to presale tickets. Become a member today. 

 

PPA Profiles: Lucio Schiavone

August 1, 2014

Originally from a small town outside of Naples, Italy, Lucio Schiavone, manager of the Prospect Park Carousel, moved to New York in 1963 after he married his wife, an American he met in his hometown.

“When I first saw my wife, she was up in a tree eating figs,” he recounted with chuckle. Having attended the Academy of Art in Italy, he pursued a career as a painter and sculptor. Lucio was hired by the Prospect Park Alliance in 1988 to assist in the restoration of the 1912 Carousel. He carefully painted each horse with a team of two other craftspeople. After several weeks, the renovation was complete and the carousel was re-opened to the public.

The Alliance soon realized they needed someone to maintain these new improvements, as well as perform the daily operations of the amusement. Lucio was their first choice. In addition to operating the attraction for tens of thousands of children each year, he performs weekly maintenance on this antique machine, climbing a thick black ladder up into the machinery to keep it well oiled. Once a year he gives the horses a fresh coat of paint, and every few weeks he changes the sheet music on the band organ.

Lucio let us in on three secrets of the Prospect Park Carousel. The first is that Morgan, the black stallion, is the leader and the favorite of all the horses. The second is that the scandalous mermaid (another favorite) isn’t part of the original carousel. A local resident donated the ornament during the restoration. The third secret is that he’s stayed at the carousel for nearly 25 years because of the kids. “They are so happy when they come here. It makes me happy when I see them. I just love that. I love to be here, and I love what I do.”

This month, the Alliance is offering free carousel rides on Thursdays for children 12 and under, through the support of Astoria Bank. You can take your family on the carousel for free year round with the Prospect Park Alliance Family Plus membership. And don’t forget to check out the Carousel t-shirt!

From the Archives: 1912 Carousel

April 1, 2014

The Prospect Park Carousel is perhaps one of the most cherished destinations in Brooklyn. However, this is not the first Carousel in Prospect Park. Since 1874, Brooklynites have flocked to the Park to enjoy this warm-weather amusement. The original Carousel was horse drawn and located in the Vale of Cashmere at the northeast corner of the Park, which was designed as a play area for children. It was subsequently moved to the Long Meadow after a fire in 1885, in the area that is now home to the Picnic House.

Upon the creation of the Children’s Corner in 1952, the current Carousel was brought to the Park from Coney Island. A gem of craftsmanship, it features 53 hand-carved horses, a lion, a giraffe, a deer and two-dragon-pulled chariots created by the renowned carver Charles Carmel in 1912. Carmel was trained near the Prospect Park horse stables, which enabled him to create masterfully lifelike creatures. The Carousel is one of only 12 of his works still in existence. In 1983, mechanical problems and deterioration forced the Carousel to close.

Four years later, the Prospect Park Alliance raised $800,000 to restore this Brooklyn treasure as its first capital restoration project. The mechanical components were repaired, twenty layers of paint were removed, and conservator Will Morton VIII skillfully recreated the historic design. Morton also added 60 renderings of Brooklyn and Prospect Park referenced from historic photos. The newly restored Carousel was opened to the public in October 1990. It is maintained to this day by the Prospect Park Alliance.