c. Virginia Freire

Audubon Takes Flight

April 14, 2015

From Nature Play to Bird Nerds Game Hour, this spring the Prospect Park Alliance is offering a slate of new and expanded free nature programs. Starting Saturday, April 18, the Alliance will open the Audubon Center at the historic Boathouse for weekend activities, add a second tent to its popular Pop-Up Audubon program, and launch Discovery Packs, ready-to-go kits filled with activities for families.

“The Alliance offers more than 800 programs serving 75,000 visitors each year throughout the Park, including the Audubon Center,” said Alliance President Sue Donoghue. “Providing families from neighborhoods across Brooklyn – and all over the city – with fun, creative ways to explore and learn about the Park’s natural areas and wildlife is an important part of our mission.”

The Prospect Park Audubon Center was established in 2002 through an innovative partnership between the Prospect Park Alliance and Audubon New York as the first Audubon Center in an urban park. Families are able to directly engage with nature through fun, play-based activities such as bird watching, catch-and-release fishing and citizen science projects. The expanded programming reflects both the popularity of Audubon activities with visitors, as well as the Alliance’s focus on increasing access to Park amenities for surrounding communities. 

Every Saturday and Sunday, the Alliance will offer family-friendly nature programming from 10 am until 1 pm at the Boathouse, such as Nature Play, an innovative game-centered approach to connecting kids with the great outdoors, and Blooming Naturalists, which introduces families to the Park’s vast variety of birds. The Alliance’s popular Pop-Up Audubon program, which launched in 2013 and occurs at locations around the Park, will double the fun with a second tent that explores the Park’s aquatic habitats.

In addition, Discovery Packs will be available at the Audubon Center and new Pop-Up Audubon tent that families can borrow to explore the Park. Similar to Pop-Up Audubon, the Discovery Packs will feature a new theme each month. In April, participants will play Habitat Bingo, searching for specific birds then designing nests. 

Check out the full schedule of programs.

c. Paul Martinka

Brooklyn Ice

March 16, 2015

This winter, Brooklyn Ice, a nonprofit organization that provides free afterschool figure skating lessons to community youth, returned to Prospect Park after a several year absence with the first full winter season of ice skating at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside.

Brooklyn Ice was founded over ten years ago in Prospect Park by Violet Eagan, a longtime figure skating coach, with the mission of making figure skating an accessible sport for underserved youth. The program launched in 2004 with just 12 neighborhood youth, and has grown to support over 60 youth, providing not only skating instruction but also academic tutoring and special workshops on nutrition, college preparation and more.

“Encouraging personal growth through sport and community is our goal,” says Eagan. “It’s a great opportunity for the kids to meet new friends outside of their regular school day while improving skate skills and becoming better members of the community.”

Participants in the program are recruited from schools neighboring Prospect Park, and the program brings together a diverse group over the course of several years, enabling youth to form long-term friendships. “My favorite thing about Brooklyn Ice is that it gets you moving,” said Lucero, a fifth grader at PS 10. “Your not just sitting in the house, you are having fun working with people.”

The program will run through March 23, when students will present their skills to the public at the Brooklyn Ice Annual Skating Show at 6 pm at the LeFrak Center. The ice show not only showcases the progress and efforts of the students participating in the program, but features guest performers including Jimmy Ma, a figure skating senior national competitor. Prospect Park Alliance members receive a $5 discount on advance ticket purchases using the code PPA15.


c. Martin Seck

Water, Water Everywhere!

July 1, 2014

Summer is heating up in Prospect Park, and with plenty of water-filled fun, it is the perfect place to cool off. At the LeFrak Center at Lakeside, enjoy a serene afternoon exploring Brooklyn’s only lake and take in scenic views of the White Levy Esplanade and Chaim Baier Music Island. 

Is water play more your family’s speed? In addition to the great water features located in the Park’s playgrounds, there’s a new place for children to soak up the summer fun. Open seven days a week, the new Splash Pad at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside has more than 40 sprays to cool down on a hot day. Before cooling off, work up a sweat roller skating around the covered rink, with new programs this summer including Toddler Tuesdays. Afterwards, enjoy some frozen treats from the LeFrak Center’s Bluestone Café and take in the park views and lake breeze.

On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, families can also enjoy the Pop-Up Audubon Macy’s Fishing Clinics at the White Levy Esplanade at Lakeside and across the Lake at Wellhouse Drive. This family-friendly clinic will teach children how to tie a fishing knot, cast a line, and even collect their own bait.

With boating, water play and catch-and-fishing to enjoy, this might be the best Prospect Park summer yet. Share the fun on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter at #prospectparksummer. We’ll select the best summer images for our Photo of the Week.

Celebrate Spring at the Prospect Park Fair

April 1, 2014

On Saturday, April 26, join the Prospect Park Alliance in welcoming spring at the second annual Prospect Park Fair. Located at the Bandshell, the Fair is a free, fun-filled day of games, food and entertainment.

This year’s Fair features a performance from Brooklyn’s own Uncle Majic “the Hip Hop Magician,” and music and games presented by DJ Steve Papa. Children can also enjoy face painting and a special guest appearance by the Brooklyn Cyclones’ Sandy the Seagull.

The Alliance presents some of its most popular activities, including Pop-Up Audubon nature programs, 19th-century lawn games from Lefferts Historic House, and a mini-net for tennis play with the Prospect Park Tennis Center. Make certain to stop by the Alliance booth for information on the latest news and upcoming events in the Park.

The Fair also showcases the goods and services of Alliance business members, whose annual contribution helps to support the Park. Business members will provide games, contests, live demonstrations and prizes. This also includes a sampling of cuisines from food trucks presented by the New York Food Truck Association, which also runs the Food Truck Rally with the Alliance.

From the Archives: 1912 Carousel

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.

c. Elizabeth Keegin Colley

Five Things to Look Forward to this Spring

March 3, 2014

Spring is just around the corner, and after record snowfall and a polar vortex, many of us are ready for the new season. Whether its roller skating at the new LeFrak Center at Lakeside or enjoying lunch at the Food Truck Rally, Prospect Park offers a range of activities this spring the entire family will enjoy. We’ve selected a few of our favorites.

Prospect Park Opening Day
The Prospect Park Alliance welcomes spring to the Park on April 5 with a range of events the entire family will enjoy. Join Brooklyn Little Leaguers as they parade through Park Slope and throw out the ceremonial first pitch of the season at the Bandshell. Also that day, Alliance volunteers will take part in a spring cleaning of the Park, raking leaves, edging pathways and removing litter from natural areas. The Alliance will also celebrate another great season of family programming at Lefferts Historic House, the Audubon Center at the Boathouse and Pop-Up Audubon with games, activities and exhibits. End the day with a ride on the Prospect Park Carousel, which opens March 27.

LeFrak Center at Lakeside
If you’ve enjoyed ice skating at the new LeFrak Center at Lakeside this winter, you will love roller skating and water play this spring and summer. Enjoy the sweeping views from the green roof, lunch at the café or a spin around the Lake when pedal boats return to the water. The LeFrak Center at Lakeside is the ultimate destination for warm weather fun in Prospect Park.

Pop-Up Audubon
Pop-Up Audubon, the Alliance’s new environmental education program now in its second season, features a range of new exhibits, tours and activities this spring. Nature on the Go! takes families through Brooklyn’s last remaining forest, while Nature’s Helpers enables families to volunteer in the Park to keep it looking its best. In the Family Birth Watching program, discover some of the 200 species of birds that pass through Prospect Park.

Food Truck Rally
Starting April 6, join us for another round of Food Truck Rallies on the first and third Sundays of every month. The Alliance will present a wide range of food trucks at Grand Army Plaza, from grilled cheese to lobster rolls to dumplings and more. Grab a blanket for a great spring afternoon of outdoor dining.

Prospect Park Fair
On April 26, the Prospect Park Alliance presents the second annual Prospect Park Fair. Enjoy food, entertainment, family activities and specialty items from a wide array of local Brooklyn businesses.

Tell us your favorite spring activities in the Park. Share with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter!