Archive | November, 2010

Clowning around at Macy’s Clown U!

16 Nov

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November 13. It’s 7:30AM. On a Saturday. And my birthday…

As I make my way to the subway, I wonder what I should expect. A 2-hour orientation at 9AM – WHY?! And then I think, because! I’m training to be a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade CLOWN!

I arrive at the huge Big Apple Circus tent in Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park in Manhattan, and it’s like a maze inside – there are lots of balloons (strategically arranged), many signs with arrows pointing the way, and… popcorn? Mmmm.

I finally reach the class. And get a little excited taking photos. But hey, you’ll see why, totally worth getting carried away. The zany Circus Master and his trainers are the Big Apple Circus clowns-of-renown, and after we participate in some interesting body and facial exercises, we rush into the circus ring for more shenanigans. No animals present, in case you were wondering…

After some prep work/improv with our Supreme clown commander, we are approved to be her “Spacey Clowns.” Qualifications to pass? Being goofy, cheerful, and a tad imaginative. Oh, and I should mention that the Birthday clown commander surprised me when she and her group of 20 clowns-in-training suddenly surrounded me and sang “Happy Birthday!” loud enough for everyone to hear. At least they didn’t go on to sing “How old are you now?”

And NY1 even showed up, but not for me. “Being a class clown was a point of honor for those who were in training for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Saturday. … Once the volunteers learn skills like etiquette, comedic timing and gags, they will become full-fledged parade clowns and receive their coveted fake noses.” Hear more of what they say here.

According to I LOVE NEW YORK, “Every year more than 2.5 million people are in attendance and another 44 million tune in to watch … it’s the most spectacular Thanksgiving holiday celebration in the world.” As some of you may know, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade started in 1924, and this Thanksgiving tradition will not only kick off the holiday season with celebrities and floats, but will also be green with those reused BIG balloons. They also reclaim all the helium in their balloon program so that it can be reused as well. Did you know that Macy’s ranks as one of the Top 100 greenest companies in America!? To learn more about their year-round initiatives, click here.

So what can I say? I couldn’t have thought of a better way to celebrate my birthday than to attend Macy’s Clown U! This Thanksgiving, our mission will be to make everyone smile and laugh – rain or shine – and as one of the paraders, I can’t wait to entertain you all with some funny routines and espresso-influenced high energy on Thursday, November 25th. Until then, I’ll be dreaming of my rubber chicken, floppy shoes, crazy make-up, and orange NASA costume.

To infinity… and beyond! That’s right Buzz Lightyear, I’m quoting you!

2010 Pumpkin Festival at the Central Park Bandshell

10 Nov

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Autumn is a great time to visit New York State. The weather is crisp and beautiful, there are so many activities to choose from, the summer crowds are gone, and the holiday crowds haven’t arrived – yet…

A lot of things happened already this season. Trees and flowers were planted and distributed. Leaves changed color.  People painted roofs white. Others got a workout from the inaugural Green City Challenge. Speaking of which, let’s not forget the NYC Marathon, which draws “more than 100,000 applicants annually.”

The most anticipated event to date (for me) was the Pumpkin Festival hosted by the New York City Parks Department in Central Park on Saturday, October 30th. In the environmental education “Green Zone,” a few other volunteers and I were tabling and distributing some composting information to hundreds of visitors, many of whom were brave enough to hold some worms in their hands – not an easy thing to ask from a stranger. To our left was the Parks Department’s GreenTeam, a dedicated group of New Yorkers pitching in to reduce the ecological footprint of public events in parks. And to our right was the Office of Recycling Outreach & Education (OROE), discussing the why’s and how’s of recycling lots of stuff.

Many other featured activities included a citywide Scarecrow Design Competition, the famous Pumpkin Patch, Greenmarket vendors, Marionette Performances by Puppets in the Park and other live entertainment, and of course the ghoulishly scary Circus Berzerkus Haunted House. Best of all, these activities were all FREE!

Oh wait, did I forget to mention that there was a giant pumpkin, which came from competitive pumpkin grower Andy Wolf near Buffalo, NY? Would you believe it was also my first time attending this annual fall harvest celebration? I mean, how could I have missed this after all these years!? Well, as it turns out, about 20,000-30,000 people showed up, so maybe it was their first time too, but one thing’s for sure, I’m definitely coming back!

Fall for the rest of New York State here, where you can identify leaves and apples, jaunt to a nearby pumpkin patch for picking (talk about a tongue twister), or embark on driving tours.

Stay tuned for my next entry on this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade! I’ll be clowning around, pun intended =D

Greenest NYer joins NY4P’s Bulb Brigade!

10 Nov

On Sunday, October 24, I had the pleasure of serving as a volunteer bulb brigadier, helping New Yorkers For Parks (NY4P) distribute thousands of free daffodil bulbs from the Manhattan Union Square site to individuals and various community groups who commit to planting them in a park or public space. The daffodil bulbs suppliers include those from Hardscrabble Farm in North Salem, New York.

This was all part of their “Daffodil Project,” a living 9/11 Memorial and a citywide effort to beautify every neighborhood by planting daffodils. “Led by New Yorkers for Parks in cooperation with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, this annual volunteer effort serves as a living memorial for the victims, a symbol of remembrance, and an act of rebirth that involves citizens in the revitalization of their communities” (NY4P website). Each fall (for nearly a decade), NY4P distributes hundreds of thousands of daffodil bulbs to New Yorkers in all five boroughs. On another note, I used to survey city parks as an NY4P intern!

I look forward to volunteering again next spring when we clean up the blooming sites. In the meantime, I’ll be taking care of my 25 bulbs that were planted in street tree pits. Wish me luck!

Paint the Town White! (or at least the rooftops)

4 Nov

As a representative of NYU’s Green Alumni Network, I had the pleasure of crashing a rooftop party, but of a different kind. I cleaned and prepared the roof of the Foundation House Women’s Shelter on 424 West 47th Street with the NYU community for the weekend’s “white roof” painting.

You may ask yourself, why is painting this roof important? And why white? Isn’t that color a faux pas after Labor Day?

Well, it’s not so much about the clothes you’re wearing, but about the color you’re painting the roof you’re partying on. As it turns out, we laid the foundation for the weekend group’s efforts to help the building cut energy costs (reducing 1 degree = $100 million saved!) with special white reflective coating, which reflects the sun’s rays back into the atmosphere as opposed to inducing the Heat Island Effect. Mayor Bloomberg, in a semi-unrelated event, coated one millionth square foot of a white rooftop to promote NYC Service’s Cool Roofs Initiative to paint hot black roofs, lower energy used for cooling, and lower greenhouse gas emissions by 30% citywide with the use of White Roof tops by 2030, a prime goal of PlaNYC, the city’s comprehensive sustainability plan. Click here for the press release.

Where would we be without the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, better known as NYSERDA? NYSERDA administers the New York Energy $martSM program, which provides energy efficiency services. What’s more, New York State offers funding and incentives for homeowners and commercial building operators to install Cool Roofs as a payback.

Even better, our efforts are part of‘s 10/10/10 “Global Work Party” to fight climate change, bring people together to make “glocal” (local + global) change (people at 7347 events in 188 countries got to work on the climate crisis!), and voice the public’s growing concerns for November’s Climate Summit in Cancun, Mexico, where the world’s politicians will meet and try to move forward with the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change. Coincidentally, October 10th, 2010 is 10 weeks before the Summit. Plus, the 10:10 Campaign is so easy to remember, 10/10/10!

“Think Globally, Act Locally.” Wait, I know I heard that somewhere…

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