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© Alexa Hoyer

Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation

2021 Season Wrap: Brooklyn Bridge Park Welcomes Over 5 Million Visitors; 45,000 to Conservancy Events

December 21, 2021

2021 Season Wrap Up: Over 5 Million Visitors to Park More than 45,000 Attend Events & Public Programs

Brooklyn Bridge Park on December 22, 2021—Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP) and Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy (Conservancy) celebrate the conclusion of the 2021 season. This past summer the Park remained open through the COVID-19 pandemic and safely welcomed more than 5 million visitors to enjoy public outdoor space and free amenities, while hosting close to 400 recreational, cultural, and educational events and programs for over 45,000 participants. Construction at Brooklyn Bridge Park is finished, and the Park is complete as originally designed with the opening of Emily Warren Roebling Plaza.

Emily Warren Roebling Plaza, the final section of parkland adds two acres of flexible plaza space and links the DUMBO section of the Park with the southern piers, a crucial connection that enhances the flow of pedestrian traffic and provides a moment to observe the incredible Brooklyn Bridge from below. Emily Warren Roebling Plaza pays tribute to the rich history of the Brooklyn Bridge and is named in honor of the woman known for her work ensuring the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Park concessions continued to delight visitors and offered a selection of food and beverage treats. Ample Hills Creamery, OddFellows Ice Cream Co., Fornino, Luke’s Lobster, and Pilot were opened for the season. Popular park amenities provided fun, safe family activities to thousands. More than 60,000 skated at the Pier 2 Roller Rink and 25,000 climbers at the Cliffs courses in DUMBO. Brooklyn Public Library Annex was open all season at One John Street before moving to their new location across the street in DUMBO.

In July, Public Art Fund installed Claudia Weiser’s Rehearsal, a collection of five large-scale geometric sculptures, at the Plymouth Street entrance to the Park. The exhibit is on display until April 2022. Over the summer season, Brooklyn Bridge Park hosted four performances as part of New York State’s NY Pops Up festival, which brought free live musical performances to public outdoor spaces intended to invigorate New Yorkers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photoville returned for its 10th year and displayed more than 70 visual story exhibitions throughout the Park from September to December. More than 100,000 visitors experienced the one-of-a-kind photo festival. Musician Ed Sheeran performed at Pier 3 during the MTV Video Music Awards in September. At Pier 2, the Brooklyn Nets returned for their annual Practice in the Park, which welcomed fans to watch the entire team take to the court for drills as they prepared for the upcoming season. The Statsraad Lehmkuhl, Norway’s oldest and largest square-rigged tall ship, docked at the Park during its global circumnavigation as part of the United Nations’ Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

The Conservancy’s signature outdoor film series, Movies With A View, returned for a highly anticipated 4-week run in August, celebrating its 21st season with the theme “Grit,’ featuring heartwarming, irreverent, hilarious, and uplifting underdog stories of perseverance and resilience. Over 10,000 filmgoers enjoyed movies under the stars this season – Shaun of the Dead (2004), Patti Cake$ (2017), Akeelah and the Bee (2006), and The Karate Kid (1984) – with food and drink provided by Smorgasburg vendors, short films curated by BAMCinématek, and DJ sets provided by Brooklyn Radio.

While stages and studios remained closed due to COVID-19, the Conservancy’s arts and culture lineup provided much needed open-air opportunities for local music, theatre, and dance groups to rehearse and perform:

  • A season kick-off Brass Bands Festival event on June 13, featuring roving Park performances by five of Brooklyn’s foremost brass band ensembles, including Slavic Soul Party!, Brass Queens, Hot Hand Band, Low Beat Brass, and festival co-producers L Train Brass Band.

  • The launch of a brand new “Share the Stage” series featuring dance performances and poetry readings that incorporated immersive, family-friendly workshops for all ages. The series featured the Conservancy’s inaugural Open Studios Residency awarded to Fogo Azul NYC and Oyu Oro Afro-Cuban Experimental Dance Ensemble; the iconic Mark Morris Dance Group at Pier 1 Harbor View Lawn featuring their Brooklyn Bridge Park debut and world premiere of their new piece Water; and a youth slam poetry event by Urban Word NYC’s FIRST DRAFT OPEN MIC featuring a selection of award-winning teen poets.

  • A lively waterfront dance social on July 16 in partnership with the Freedom Party NYC where nearly 1,000 gathered at the Pier 3 Plaza for an inclusive and spirited dance party for all-ages.

  • An intimate live theater showing of Arden: Peek Into the Forest at Pier 3 Greenway Terrace, exploring love in a time of national unrest, protest, conflict, and discord.

  • Book and poetry readings curated by four of Brooklyn’s foremost independent bookstores – Café Con Libros, Mil Mundos Books, Books Are Magic, and Freebird Books – at the in-person return of Books Beneath the Bridge. The lineup featured both celebrated and up-and-coming authors at Pier 1 Granite Prospect.

  • On September 16, a successful launch of Sounds of Sunset, a new live music series at Pier 3 Granite Terrace presented in partnership with American Symphony Orchestra. Esteemed chamber ensembles shared intimate, thematic performances of contemporary and classical pieces.

After a 2020 hiatus, the Conservancy was delighted to announce the in-person return of the long-awaited annual family festivals. Thousands of kids and families came to the waterfront for fun-filled afternoons filled with entertainment and activities by community partners and local vendors. This season featured:

  • The annual Earth Day festival on Saturday, April 24 with over 1000 attendees participating in free waterfront fitness classes, self-led volunteer opportunities, partner booths, and environmental education activities.

  • The timely return of the annual Hindu Lamp Ceremony on August 7 to Pebble Beach, where Aeilushi Mistry, in partnership with Brooklyn Arts Council,  performed the sacred and celebratory rights of the traditional Indian Aarti Ceremony, to honor loved ones lost to the pandemic and express gratitude to the river.

  • After the virtual festival in 2020, an in-person Brooklyn Americana Music Festival on September 18 and 19 at the Liberty View Stage on Pier 6. The Conservancy welcomed over 2,500 music lovers to hear sets by women and women-identified artists across a range of musical styles, including bluegrass, folk, country, blues, and more.

  • The season-culminating return of the beloved 11th annual Harvest Festival on October 23. Over 5,000 New Yorkers celebrated this free, family-friendly fall festival on Pier 6, featuring a pumpkin patch, live roving entertainers, lawn games, dancing, music, and a range of activities and crafts by community partners.

The Conservancy’s Waterfront Workouts proved more popular than ever for parkgoers to keep active and healthy during the ongoing pandemic. Thanks to an extended fitness season running from May through the end of October, more participants than ever before – over 3,000 – participated in opportunities to get moving outdoors. Classes included Zumba and Pilates with Dodge YMCA, Double Dutch with Coach Kizzy Samuels, Family Fitness, Amp’d Bootcamp, and Vinyasa Yoga with Chelsea Piers Fitness, and one-off opportunities such as the International Day of Yoga with Setu, and Vinyasa Yoga with ONEYOGAHOUSE founder Anna Haddad. Additional recreational offerings included over 2,500 paddlers at public kayaking, hundreds of youth basketball clinic participants, and over 2,000 participants in our Adult and Youth Soccer Leagues.

The Conservancy’s Environmental Education Program continued throughout the pandemic, offering flexible outdoor, virtual, and hybrid offerings to meet a diversity of needs brought forth by the challenges of the pandemic. Over the course of the season:

  • Over 10,000 students and public visitors learned about the ecology Brooklyn Bridge Park and the East River through K-12 field trips, seining and oyster monitoring sessions, rod and reel fishing clinics, Early Nature Experiences for pre-schoolers, educational webinars, and more.

  • School program students, more than 5,000, came from across the five boroughs for field trips in Brooklyn Bridge Park, representing 47 different institutions, 32 zip codes, and 23 council districts. Overall, 31% of the classes identified as Title 1 and 35% as ESL.

  • The Conservancy launched a brand new summer camp in partnership with Trail Blazers for kids to safely play, learn, and explore outdoors. Participants learned valuable life skills, while developing an appreciation for nature and the environment through hands-on exploration and investigation. More than 440 kids participated in the inaugural launch of this program in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

  • Finally, after a temporary close of the Environmental Education Center due to COVID-19, the Conservancy celebrated the long-awaited official reopening and 6th anniversary this September 2021. The center is now open to the public for free, drop-in Open Hours three days a week, featuring educational games, activities, exhibits, and crafts around monthly ecology and nature themes.

Over the course of the season, more than 400 Conservancy volunteers generously donated over 2,000 hours to service projects in the Park. Stewardship opportunities included everything from beach cleanups, horticulture projects, oyster monitoring, photography opportunities, and support at the Conservancy’s family festivals and events. Further, more than 35 high school students participated in spring, summer, and fall sessions of Teens Interested in and Dedicated to Environmental Stewardship (TIDES), learning about ecology, conservation, and sustainability, while giving back through hands-on service projects in the Park. In total, student volunteers gave over 600 volunteer hours and completed projects at Green Team, Coastal Cleanups, oyster monitoring, seining, citizen science fishing clinics, and more.

“The past two summer seasons presented unprecedented challenges of living in a global pandemic,” said Eric Landau, Brooklyn Bridge Park President. “We are so fortunate to be able to provide much needed open space to the public during a time when fresh air and outdoor space is so critical. We are grateful to all our partners who remained diligent and flexible as we all tried to navigate this new time. Despite all the challenges the last 2 years have presented, we were still able to keep the Park open, programmed with safe cultural and educational programs, and even complete construction of the Brooklyn Bridge Park project as originally designed. Thank you to all of our amazing partners and supporters, particularly Nancy Webster and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, who all made the summer season another great one.”  

“2021 was a truly special year despite the challenges of an ongoing pandemic. Our commitment to serving the public safely, without compromising on creativity and connection, paid off as we witnessed the joy and gratitude expressed by thousands at arts and culture events, fitness and recreation opportunities, volunteer projects, and environmental education classes,” said Nancy Webster, Executive Director, Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of so many partners, staff, volunteers — and of course, our friends at Brooklyn Bridge Park — we look forward to building on the momentum of this year and bringing even more fun, dynamic, and inclusive programming to the public in 2022.”


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