Paul Martinka

Prospect Park Enjoys Wave of Community Support

May 11, 2021

In July of 2020, New York City Parks were faced with an impossible challenge. Just as New Yorkers surged to the parks to escape the confinement of their homes, the City announced the Parks budget was being cut by $84 million. What unfolded was a summer of parks across the city trying desperately to keep up with the record crowds and ensuing litter.

Luckily, as parks experienced their time of need, New Yorkers realized just how much they needed their parks reports the Wall Street Journal. As one of the only places to safely social distance, New Yorkers were doing everything, from workout routines to birthday parties, in parks. And with more time at the park, there was more time to notice the errant takeout container or patchy flower bed. In the past year, New Yorkers citywide stepped up to volunteer at or donate to parks, sometimes at record levels as the Journal discovered while connecting with parks across the city.

Between July 2020 and March 2021, Prospect Park Alliance alone saw a 142% increase in new volunteers and a 42% increase in individual donors. Thanks to this rise in community involvement, Prospect Park Alliance is making essential improvements throughout the park and engaging more workers to ensure that Brooklyn’s Backyard is renewed and ready for all visitors. Alliance President Sue Donoghue took Journal reporter Anne Kadet on a tour of the park to point out improvements the nonprofit is making, thanks to the windfall. They include new benches and landscaping at the Drummer’s Grove and upgraded restrooms, not to mention new picnic tables, coal bins and communal grills in the barbecue areas. 

Read about New Yorkers who have stepped up to take care of their parks in The Wall Street Journal. Interested in becoming a Prospect Park Alliance volunteer? Visit our Volunteer page to learn more and register.

Volunteer Season Kicks Off

March 17, 2021

Prospect Park Alliance is gearing up for longer days, warmer weather and lots of visitors to Brooklyn’s Backyard. Ready to pitch in to keep the park green and vibrant this coming season? We’ve got plenty of ways for you to do your part for your park and your community. 

Green and Go Kits
Many Saturdays and Sundays, 10 am – 1 pm, Locations Vary

Individuals or groups are invited to join Prospect Park Alliance to help keep our park green and vibrant—register to check out Green and Go Kits at various locations around the park. These kits include a trash grabber, garbage bags and gloves. Green and Go Kits are presented in partnership with Macy’s.

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Junior Volunteer Corps
April 11 + 24, 10 am – 1 pm, Locations Vary, Registration Required

Join Prospect Park Alliance for a day of fun as we prepare the park for spring! Families are invited to join us to rake leaves. Come learn the value of service and meet other families and children on this day of giving back.

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It’s My Park Mondays
Mondays starting May 3 excluding holidays, 10 am – 1 pm, Locations Vary

Join Prospect Park Alliance for It’s My Park Mondays, a series of community volunteer events where you can help keep the park clean during these challenging times. Individuals will be provided with a trash grabber, garbage bags and gloves. We will also have a limited supply of materials available for walk-ins. 

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Carry In + Carry Out Your Trash
Please carry out of the park everything you bring into the park with you, and please clean up your trash and litter. If you are able to carry out your trash, you will be doing your park a great service. If this is not possible, please use the large trash receptacles that Prospect Park Alliance has installed in key areas of the park. File

 

 

Community Pitches In To Pick Up Trash

May 18, 2020

In a normal year, Prospect Park receives upwards of 10 million visits—folks flock to Brooklyn’s Backyard for picnics, play dates, concerts, dog walks and so much more. During the best of times, tidying up after these visits is an enormous undertaking, requiring the help of dozens of NYC Parks and Prospect Park Alliance staff and volunteers. This work helps ensure that the park stays clean and safe for our community and the wildlife that call Prospect Park home.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes to the park. With nearly everything other public space closed, parks have never been more essential for our community—or more visited. Across the city, parks are packed and trash is on the rise. As the Alliance deals with reduced staff in the park, and reduced revenue to pay for supplemental cleaning crews, we are looking to our community to help keep this shared space clean—and you are stepping up!

Want to join in the fight to keep Prospect Park clean and healthy? Here are our tips:

  • An easy way to help keep the park clean? Carry your trash out of the park with you when you go or locate a park dumpster for trash to prevent overfilling smaller receptacles.
  • Want to play a bigger part? Make your own Green-and-Go Kit by pulling together garbage bags, trash grabbers and gloves for your next trip to the park.
  • If you are helping out, please observe social distancing guidelines—wear a face covering and keep 6 feet of distance from others.
  • Stick to park paths to avoid trampling fragile park habitats, and thank you for doing your part for Brooklyn’s Backyard! 

Learn more about how you can help Prospect Park Alliance sustain the park environment. 

Images: above via Gail Greenberg, below left via Paula Zamora Gonzalez, below right via Pristine Johannessen

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This year on Earth Day, April 22, Prospect Park Alliance piloted a Green + Go Kit volunteer program, which offered trash grabbers and garbage bags to ecologically minded Brooklynites. Forty kits were loaned to the public in an effort to create a socially distanced volunteer opportunity, and the response was more than enthusiastic: all kits were booked in just three days. 

“It was a very diverse group of people—all ages and cultures were represented, adults and families with children,” said Maria Carrasco, Vice President for Public Programs at Prospect Park Alliance. “People were very thankful that the Alliance was offering this opportunity, and they walked out the door and started cleaning up trash right away!”

The Green + Go Kit volunteers aren’t the only ones who have been helping with trash collection—the help regular park-goers who are doing their part has been reported far and wide: these community members have been going out of their way to help pick up litter to keep Brooklyn’s Backyard clean and beautiful. 

 

c. Martin Seck

Community Helps Ready Fields For Spring

March 6, 2020

Play ball! In preparation for the spring baseball season, Prospect Park Alliance, NYC Parks and volunteers from teams and leagues who play at the Prospect Park Parade Ground joined forces to prep the fields for the new season. 

Prospect Park Alliance and NYC Parks crews worked with a group of more than 50 volunteers, including baseball players and coaches from Stuyvesant, Millennium, and Brooklyn Tech High Schools and the ultimate frisbee league DiscNY, to collect 300 bags of leaves, level infields, reinforce pitching mounds, weed and straighten baselines and clean the dugout areas. Upon delivery of clay, the players will return to finalize the preparation for the upcoming spring season.

“The important work of Prospect Park Alliance could not be achieved without the support of our community, and we appreciate our partnership with the many  leagues who consider the Parade Ground their home, as well as the borough-wide NYC Parks crews who supported this effort,” said Sue Donoghue, Prospect Park Alliance President and Park Administrator. “Through community support, Prospect Park Alliance is able to sustain the Parade Ground, funding groundskeepers as well as maintenance staff who care for these fields, which are utilized by thousands of Brooklyn youth and teams throughout the year.”  

“Keeping baseball fields ready for play is a big job,” said Eddie Albert, president of the Prospect Park Baseball Association, who helped spearhead the effort along with Millennium Coach Brian Friedman, Stuyvesant Coach John Carlesi, Parade Grounds League Director Jerry Katzke, Ruben Ramirez from the Public Schools Athletic League, and John Piccard and Adam Fisher of the Prospect Park Baseball Association. “We greatly appreciate all the volunteers but more importantly the work of Prospect Park Alliance and NYC Parks. We are excited about continuing this partnership to prepare and maintain fields that are so much a part of the history of baseball in this country, and look forward to working with the staff on a regular basis to keep the fields in peak condition.”

Learn more about how to get involved with Prospect Park Alliance.

 

C. Prospect Park Archives/Bob Levine Collection

Highlights from the Bob Levine Collection

February 18, 2019

You may recognize from past Throwback Thursdays that many of Prospect Park Alliance’s archival materials come from one person: Bob Levine. His collection spans more than a century of Brooklyn’s Backyard and includes thousands of archived postcards, photographs, maps and drawings of the park. But who is this collector extraordinaire? 

Take a look at some of the highlights of the collection, selected by Bob Levine himself. 

A Brooklyn native and Prospect Park enthusiast, Levine has, in his own words “circled Prospect Park.” He grew up on Ocean Parkway, lived as a young man along Ocean Avenue and is now settled in Park Slope. “I always loved nature,” says Levine of his connection to the park, “it just felt like a natural draw.” As a child in the 1960s, he played little league at the Parade Ground and explored the park’s vast nature trails. When, in his teens, he developed an affinity for collecting remnants of the past, it was only natural that Prospect Park was a subject he gravitated towards.

Levine initially made a connection with Prospect Park Alliance in the 1990s. At the time, he ran a program that helped autistic members of community find work. The Alliance had a call out for volunteers, and Levine and his group helped clean the Lake. Levine then made a connection with Alliance archivist Amy Peck to share his bounty of archival findings. 

Today, Levine is still actively adding to his collection of Prospect Park historic materials, and much to the delight of Prospect Park Alliance and the park community, still contributing to the Prospect Park Archives.

Volunteer Brunch 2018

April 10, 2018

On March 10th, 2018, Prospect Park Alliance held its 30th Annual Volunteer Recognition Brunch. This tradition, which is as old as the Alliance itself, recognizes the outstanding Prospect Park Alliance Volunteer Corps for their dedicated service. New York City Commissioner of Parks and Recreation, Mitchell J. Silver and New York City Council Member Mathieu Eugene joined Prospect Park Alliance Chief Operating and Financial Officer, James Snow and Volunteer Program Director, Jessica Jamhoury, in thanking over 100 individuals and representatives from partnering community organizations for their service. 

At the event, twenty two unique volunteers were presented with awards recognizing their dedication to Prospect Park.  Shirley Osgood received the Alan Thomson award for giving 2,500 lifetime volunteer hours to the Park. Osgood is a member of the ongoing weekday volunteer events and a dedicated horticulture volunteer who can be found in Carmen’s Garden, the flower garden in front of Litchfield Villa. She is one of only five Alliance volunteers ever to reach this level of dedication. This year, Prospect Park Alliance introduced the Tyrell Ingram Award to recognize the service of teen volunteers who give over 100 volunteer hours during the year. This eponymous award was presented to Tyrell for setting a standard for future teen volunteers. 

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In 2017 over 3,000 volunteers contributed more than 18,000 hours of service in the Park. Volunteers work in all areas of the Park on projects ranging from woodland restoration and horticultural projects to assisting with Education programs, Tennis Center programs, Park Greeters and various office administrative duties. The work of Prospect Park Alliance volunteers is essential and their dedication is evident in every area of the Park.   

See pictures of the event!

Learn more about volunteering in Prospect Park and sign up for one of our upcoming volunteer events.

PPA Profile: Lucie Chin, Halloween Costume and Set Designer

October 27, 2017

Join Prospect Park Alliance at the Prospect Park Halloween Haunted Walk and Fair on October 28, 12–3 pm. Now in it’s 38th year, this treasured event draws thousands of people into Brooklyn’s Backyard for free, spooky fun. This year, the festivities will continue at the first-ever Prospect Park Halloween After Party, from 2–5 pm, located in City Point in Downtown Brooklyn. Find out more about this year’s Haunted Walk and Fair.

For the past 30 years, Lucie Chin has been designing, creating, and directing elaborate “scenes” that come to life along the paths of Lookout Hill during the annual Haunted Walk in Prospect Park. Her famously spooky setups include props, sets, costumes, and a full cast of haunting characters played by Prospect Park Alliance Volunteers. Chin has been involved in all aspects of the walk, “from loading the trucks at dawn to closing the lock on the storage space (lovingly called Igor’s Boutique) at sunset”, since 1987. A few years ago she handed responsibility for Lookout Hill to others, but has continued to create and maintain the costumes. Now, after three decades, “The Halloween Lady” is retiring.

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Lucie Chin at her retirement party, 2017. 

When Lucie Chin first started working on the Haunted Walk in 1987, the event took place in Prospect Park’s Ravine and the “actors” were primarily Prospect Park Alliance staff and their friends. Since then, the Alliance has transformed the event into a volunteer opportunity, recruiting over 100 volunteer actors each year. The Alliance has also added a Halloween Fair on the Prospect Park Nethermead where all the local ghosts and ghouls can enjoy face painting, puppet shows, and, of course, candy.

In setting a spooky scene, Lucie draws much of her inspiration from the Park itself. From “light filtering through autumn-colored leaves” to “deep shadows under the trees and dust motes dancing in the shafts of light…I can believe the whole Park is just inches away from the mythical” she explains, “you need a real live forest to do that”.” When it comes to the magic of the Haunted Walk, Chin feels that being a part of the environment is more important than the “latest horror movies or trends.”

“Prospect Park is my Halloween”, Lucie says, describing three decades of Halloween memories in Prospect Park. There were moments of panic—Lucie recalls getting locked in Greenwood Cemetery while researching mausoleums for a “Vampire shelter”—and moments of sugar-fueled glee, including a child who hugged every “monster” on the walk because her mother told her “they won’t hurt you if you love them.”

This Saturday, October 28, will be Lucie Chin’s final Haunted Walk. Come out to Lookout Hill from 12-3 pm to experience the walk for yourself!

 

 

 

 

 

c. Martin Seck

Record Volunteer Attendance at It’s My Park Day 2017

April 17, 2017

On May 20, 2017, dedicated Park-loving volunteers rolled up their sleeves for It’s My Park Day. In honor of Prospect Park’s 150th anniversary, Prospect Park Alliance and REI recruited over 100 dedicated Park-loving volunteers to help care for their favorite green space with brooms, shovels, rakes and trash grabbers. Efforts focused on Lookout Hill, where volunteers removed 46 bags of invasive weeds and cleaned up over 4,000 feet of trails. Volunteers of all ages as well as local community groups came out for this great day of service.

“People love getting involved,” says Marcia Williams, Volunteer Program Project Coordinator. “Volunteering in the Park teaches people to give back to the community, and they feel good about it!” In 2016, roughly 4,000 Prospect Park Alliance volunteers contributed nearly 20,000 hours of service in the Park. “This volunteer group makes a huge difference, and thanks to their efforts, Prospect Park has really changed a lot in the last three decades,” says Williams. “REI and the Prospect Park Alliance have long partnered on It’s My Park! Day because the event has proven to provide a meaningful opportunity for the local community to work together to maintain this Brooklyn gem of 585 acres,” says Mick Minard, a member of REI’s Outdoor Programs and Outreach Team. “REI and The REI Foundation have invested in organizations across the country that share our goal of creating, improving and sustaining access to inspiring outdoor places. REI and the Alliance share a commitment to ensuring access to open space, supporting connected communities, and promoting health and wellness by helping more people share more time outdoors.”

Ready to get outdoors and help Prospect Park? Prospect Park Alliance offers a variety of volunteer opportunities. Register online or call (718) 287-3400 for more information.

Martin Seck

Prospect Park Volunteers Honored at Annual Brunch

March 16, 2017

On March 4, Prospect Park Alliance celebrated more than 100 committed Prospect Park volunteers and community leaders at the 29th Annual Volunteer Recognition Brunch. This cherished tradition offers the Alliance a chance to thank its exceptional Volunteer Corps, and honor those in the community who have gone above and beyond in their service to Prospect Park.

Prospect Park Alliance President Sue Donoghue and Volunteer Director Jessica Jamhoury were joined by Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Marty Maher and Assembly Member Robert Carroll in thanking the volunteers for their service. In total 16 volunteers were presented with awards commemorating their contributions to Prospect Park.

In 2016, nearly 4,000 volunteers contributed nearly 20,000 hours of service in the Park. Volunteers work in all areas of the Park on projects ranging from the beautification of the Vale of Cashmere and the Rose Garden, to woodland restoration and horticultural projects, to general Park upkeep including raking, sweeping, path maintenance and litter removal. The work of these volunteers is essential, and their dedication is visible in every corner of the Park.

View pictures of the event!

Learn more about volunteering in Prospect Park, and to sign-up for one of our upcoming volunteer events.

Bianca Nelson

Corporate Volunteer Program: AllianceBernstein

February 16, 2017

Take it from the team at AllianceBernstein—weeding, painting and planting in Prospect Park can be a ton of fun. “Working in the Third Street Playground, my team scoured rust, weeded, painted a fence… it was awesome,” said Catherine Magyera, Director of Global/Multi-Sector Fixed Income. “I sit at a desk most of the time, so this project was really different from my day-to-day.”

AllianceBernstein is a participant in the Prospect Park Alliance Corporate Volunteer Program, an initiative that pairs corporate teams with volunteer opportunities in the Park. These outings serve as unique, active team-building opportunities, and the fruits of these labors make a real difference in the Brooklyn community. Magyera recalled one particularly enthusiastic community member: “As we were finishing up at the playground, a little boy came by and asked us what we were doing. I told him, ‘don’t worry, we’re making your favorite place to play even better’ and his face just lit up.”

“When you’re working in the Park, alongside colleagues planting or weeding, it’s a great way to work together outside of the formal hierarchy of the office,” said Lucy Spalton, CFA and Vice President at AB, “and it’s much more rewarding and fun than you might think. This type of work can’t happen without a lot of manpower, and with a group of Corporate Volunteers you can get a lot done.”

Indeed, the Park’s 585-acres require constant attention, and Corporate Volunteers are an invaluable resource, providing much-needed additional support for Alliance staff. “Resources are stretched thin in the Park, and often the projects undertaken by our Corporate Volunteers wouldn’t be completed otherwise,” said Sue Donoghue, Prospect Park Alliance President, “this work has a huge impact on the Park and our visitor experience.”

The Prospect Park Alliance Corporate Volunteer Program offers a variety of packages that can be tailored for all group sizes and ages. “In our years with the Park, we’ve been able to pick great projects that we can get our team excited about, and that makes it easy for me as a leader,” said Magyera. Added Spalton, “the Alliance works with us on finding a common goal, on having a project that feels rewarding, and at the end we have a great time working along side the staff.”

Learn more about how your company can spend a day in the Park having fun and giving back to Brooklyn’s Backyard