June Bursts Out All Over New York City With Most Iconic Cultural Happenings

Dancing to the hot jazz of Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra at the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Dave E. Leiberman, Laini Miranda, Eric Leiberman
Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

June abounds with some of the most iconic cultural happenings that define New York City: Museum Mile Festival, Metropolitan Opera in the Parks, New York Philharmonic Summer Concerts, Shakespeare in the Park, Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor’s Island, and more:

The 40th Annual Museum Mile Festival, the biggest block party in the cultural capital of the world, takes place on Tuesday, June 13, 6 pm-9 pm, rain or shine on a mile-long stretch of Fifth Avenue, from 82 Street to 105 Street. It is a fantastically festive event, with street performers – clowns, magicians, bands – plus art on the street activities. Best of all, eight museums are open at no charge, many offer entertainment and special activities inside.

Dancing in the street (actually Fifth Avenue)in front of the Museum of the City of New York during the Museum Mile Festival, taking place this year on June 13 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Begun as an initiative to spur the development of new museum audiences and to increase support for the arts during the fiscal crisis of the 1970s, Museum Mile was formed as a consortium by the museums that share the Fifth Avenue address. It has become one of the most popular happenings in a city known for spectacular events – some 40,000 turn out. It’s such a wonderful opportunity to visit museums you might not otherwise see – I am always surprised.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Expect long lines and, if you are strategic in your planning, to get in about 3 or 4 museums during the course of the night, depending upon how much time you spend enjoying the street entertainment.

Participating museums include:

El Museo del Barrio, 1230 Fifth Avenue (at 104th Street), New York, NY 10029, (212) 831-7272 (http://www.elmuseo.org/)

Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue (at 104th Street), New York, NY 10029 (212) 534-1672, http://www.mcny.org/  

The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Avenue, (between 92nd & 93rd Streets), New York, NY 10128, (212) 423-3200, www.thejewishmuseum.org.

Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum, 2 East 91st Street (off Fifth Avenue) New York, NY 10128, 212-849-8400, http://www.cooperhewitt.org/

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue (at 88th Street) New York, NY 10128, (212) 423-3500, https://www.guggenheim.org/

Neue Galerie New York, 1048 Fifth Avenue (at 86th Street), New York, NY 10028, (212) 628-6200, http://www.neuegalerie.org/.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street), New York, NY 10028, (212) 535-7710 http://www.metmuseum.org/.

Visit http://museummilefestival.org/ for more information, map, and schedule.

Gatsby-esque Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island

Don your best Gatsby-era duds, pack a picnic basket, grab the ferry to Governors Island, and be prepared to be transported back to the 1920s: the 13th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party takes place over two weekends: June 16 and June 17, 2018 and August 25 and August 26, 2018. The event kicks off at 11 am and ends at 5 pm.

The Dreamland Follies evoke Ziegfeld-esque grand dance routines at the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island headlined by Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There, conductor, composer, musician and crooner Michael Arenella presents a personally transcribed, one-of-a-kind songbook for your listening and dancing pleasure by his Dreamland Orchestra, playing the Hot Jazz of the 1920s.

You are treated to stunning Ziegfeld Follies-eque dance routines, dance lessons, dance contests, a Bathing Beauties and Beaus Promenade (in vintage swimming outfits), outstanding musical performances, a fair where you can buy vintage clothing. Food and specially created era-appropriate cocktails and available for sale.

The entertainment abounds: In addition to Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra, there is also Drew Nugent and the Midnight Society from Philadelphia, presents wry, spry, and certifiably Hot Jazz; The Dreamland Follies evoke Ziegfeld-esque grand dance routines; Roddy Caravella and the Canarsie Wobblers is a fun-loving dance troupe that conjures the rebellious and exuberant spirit of Roaring ‘20s youth; Gelber & Manning Band, feuding vaudevillian lovebirds quarrel, coo and make beautiful music together; Queen Esther pays tribute to jazz royalty of yore and Peter Mintun is “world’s greatest piano man.”

The event sells out and tickets are only available for purchase in advance. For tickets and information visit, http://jazzagelawnparty.com/. Purchase tickets at http://jazzagelawnparty.ticketfly.com/.

Governors Island, reached by ferry, gives you a getaway to faraway destination, chock full of historic attractions like Castle Williams, a fortification built for the War of 1812, used as a prison during the Civil War. You can rent a surrey, bicycles, and beginning this year, even camp out © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Governors Island is a sensational getaway destination, in its own right – historic sites, bicycle paths, playgrounds, art venues, and marvelous festive “happenings.” Be one of the first guests to stay overnight on NYC’s historic Governors Island with Collective Retreats when it opens June 1. With unique accommodations including luxury tents and designer modular containers, guests will enjoy a full-service hotel-style retreat with unparalleled waterfront views of New York City and the Statue of Liberty (collectiveretreats.com).

Shakespeare in the Parks 

In the summer, Shakespeare productions pop up in parks and parking lots. While The Public Theater’s Central Park shows—the renowned Shakespeare in the Park—are the most famous, other NYC theater companies put on plays for free in one-of-a-kind city settings:

Shakespeare in the Park
Othello: May 29–June 24 (Tuesdays–Sundays, with some exceptions); 8pm
Twelfth Night: July 17–August 19 (Tuesdays–Sundays); 8pm
Since 1962, The Public Theater’s free productions at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park have featured unusual takes on the classics. This year, Tony winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson directs Othello, and The Public’s artistic director, Oskar Eustis, co-directs with Kwame Kwei-Armah a musical adaptation of Twelfth Night originally conceived for the theater’s Public Works project.

New York Classical Theatre
Romeo and Juliet: June 5–24 (Central Park); 7pm
June 26–July 1 (Rockefeller Park); 7pm
July 3–15 (The Battery); 7pm
July 17–22 (Carl Schurz Park); 7pm
July 24–29 (Brooklyn Bridge Park); 7pm
New York Classical Theatre’s productions roam around outdoor parks all over the City, so be prepared to walk a bit and bring a blanket to sit on. This season, the company presents the world’s foremost star-crossed lovers in locations ranging from the Upper East Side to the banks of the East River.

Shakespeare Downtown
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: June 14–24 (Thursdays–Sundays); 6:30pm
This troupe presents Shakespeare as audiences first experienced it: in the round, outdoors and in daylight. Castle Clinton in The Battery is the unusual venue for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a light comedy for a bright summer’s eve. Free tickets are distributed at 6pm for the 6:30pm show, which wraps just before dusk.

Shakespeare in the Parking Lot
Hamlet: July 5–August 5 (Thursdays–Saturdays); 6:30pm
The Drilling Company has presented Shakespeare’s works in parking lots on NYC’s Lower East Side since 1995; this year’s asphalt production of Hamlet takes place just behind The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center.

Shakespeare in Bryant Park: The Drilling Company
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: May 18–June 12 (Fridays, Saturdays); 7pm
Twelfth Night: July 27–28 (Friday, Saturday), 7pm; July 29 (Sunday), 3pm
Macbeth: August 24–September 8 (Fridays, Saturdays); 7pm
The Drilling Company moves uptown to the gorgeous Bryant Park, now a true destination, behind the New York City Library.

Smith Street Stage
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: June 18–July 1; 7:30pm
In 2010, Smith Street Stage had just five actors for its debut production, Romeo and Juliet. Now the company has grown to include more than 30 members, who’ve performed for thousands over the course of eight summers in Brooklyn’s Carroll Park. This season they take on the popular comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Free Shakespeare in the Parks: Hip to Hip Theatre Company
King Lear and All’s Well That Ends Well: July 26–August 26
Hip to Hip Theatre Company specializes in family-friendly Shakespeare compressed to 90 minutes. This series tours two shows in repertory to more than a dozen City parks in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx. A half hour before showtime, free workshops for children use games to help kids connect to the characters and stories. For up-to-date details on performance locations and start times, visit their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/HiptoHipTheatre/)

Hudson Warehouse Summer Stage
Romeo and Juliet: June 7–July 1 (Thursdays–Sundays); 6:30pm
Hamlet: August 2–26 (Thursdays–Sundays); 6:30pm
Hudson Warehouse’s Shakespeare productions—staged on the expansive North Patio of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Riverside Park—have been set in the 16th and 17th centuries, in modern times and even in an apocalyptic framework. The orange glow of the sunset adds to the beauty of each performance. This year, the company does two of Shakespeare’s most well-known plays, Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet.

Metropolitan Opera’s 2018 Summer Recital Series Features Rising Stars

The 2018 Metropolitan Opera Summer Recital Series once again brings free outdoor recitals featuring rising young stars of the opera world to all five boroughs. The series, now in its tenth year, is presented in collaboration with City Parks Foundation’s SummerStage Festival and features six free concerts between June 11 and June 29. The first two recitals, on June 11 at 8 p.m. at Central Park SummerStage and June 13 at 7 p.m. at Brooklyn Bridge Park, features soprano Latonia Moore, who starred in Verdi’s Aida, tenor Mario Chang, who is currently singing as Arturo in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, and baritone Joshua Hopkins, who will star as Mercutio in the Met’s upcoming production of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, joined by pianist Dan Saunders.

The Metropolitan Opera takes opera outdoors for free summer concerts in city parks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Four additional recitals with the accompaniment of Saunders, feature soprano Gabriella Reyes de Ramírez, tenor Gerard Schneider, and baritone Adrian Timpau: Thursday, June 21 at 7 p.m. in Cloves Lakes Park (Staten Island); Saturday, June 23 at 3 p.m. in Williamsbridge Oval (Bronx); Wednesday, June 27 at 7:00 p.m. in Jackie Robinson Park (Manhattan); and Friday, June 29 at 7 p.m. in Socrates Sculpture Park (Queens).

New York Philharmonic Concerts in the Parks 

The New York Philharmonic’s 2018 Concerts in the Parks, Presented by Didi and Oscar Schafer, will feature James Gaffigan conducting music celebrating Laureate Conductor Leonard Bernstein’s centennial, evocative works highlighting the Orchestra’s virtuosity, and music by students in the Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers (VYC) program — the first time that VYC works have been performed in the parks concerts.

New York Philharmonic will bring its free summer concerts to all five boroughs between June 12-17 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The program features Saint-Saëns’s Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah; Bernstein’s Three Dance Episodes from On the Town; Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade; 11-year-old Very Young Composer Jordan Millar’s Boogie Down Uptown; and 10-year-old Very Young Composer Camryn Cowan’s Harlem Shake.

The performances will take place at Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx (June 12); the Great Lawn in Central Park, Manhattan (June 13); Cunningham Park, Queens (June 14); and Prospect Park, Brooklyn (June 15). Musicians from the New York Philharmonic will perform Beethoven’s Wind Sextet, Op. 71; Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence; and the World Premieres of wind sextets by Very Young Composers of New York City — 14-year-old Chi-Chi Ezekwenna’s It’s Almost Summer! and 13-year-old Nicolas Lipman’s Sriracha! — in the Free Indoor Concert in Staten Island at the Music Hall at Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden (June 17).

The performances in the Bronx, Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn will begin at 8:00 p.m. and will conclude with fireworks. The Free Indoor Concert in Staten Island will begin at 3:00 p.m.; tickets are free but required for the Staten Island concert, and are available at nyphil2018.bpt.me.

Fireworks will conclude the New York Philharmonic’s concerts in the Bronx, Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The 12th annual Make Music New York (MMNY) festival will feature more than 1,000 free public concerts across all five boroughs on June 21, the first day of summer and the longest day of the year. Highlights include a Broadway concert in Harlem, vocalists recreating birdsong in Brooklyn Botanic Garden along with performers in Union Square, Central Park and Governors Island, just to name a few (makemusicny.org).

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© 2018 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

A Potpourri of Summer Family Vacation Choices to Get You Outside, Together

Nothing builds brotherly bonds like roasting marshmallows over a campfire during a moonlight kayak trip at Sebasco Harbor Resort, Midcoast, Maine © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Dave E. Leiberman, Eric Leiberman

Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

It’s officially the start of the summer family vacation season! It is widely known that getting out and experiencing things first hand is the best way to cultivate learning. The experiences also engage children, forge bonds and provide lifelong memories. Here are “get out there and do it” summer family vacation ideas.

Looking for adventure, for discovery, for immersion in culture, heritage or the natural world? Many of the most respected ecotourism operators offer special itineraries tailored for families:

Smithsonian Family Journeys by Perillo’s Learning Journeys has created a series of multi-generational itineraries, including Discover Japan (meet students of anime), Iceland Explorer, Exploring London and Paris (take a scavenger hunt through the Louvre), and Discover Ireland (learn to speak Gaelic). (Visit https://www.learningjourneys.com/family-journeys/smithsonian, 855-215-8691; Perillo’s Learning Journeys, www.learningjourneys.com, 888-884-8259; www.SmithsonianJourneys.org).

Wild Women Expeditions’ globe-spanning roster of women-only itineraries also beckons adventurous mothers to join their daughters on journeys into the wilderness that can re-cement relationships. One adventure just for moms and girls ages 10 to 16 is on horseback in Iceland. The other for moms and daughters ages 8 to 13 is closer to home in canoes on a lake in Canada. (888-993-1222, info@wildwomenexpeditions.comhttps://wildwomenexpeditions.com/).

Wild Planet Adventures has family-focused departures in Costa Rica, Africa, Borneo, Brazil, Costa Rica, Galapagos, India, Laos, Nepal, Panama, Peru, Thailand and Zambia (800-990-4376, www.wildplanetadventures.com, email trips@wildplanetadventures.com.

Other adventure operators that offer family-focused trips:

Thomson Family Adventures, Watertown, MA, familyadventures.com, 800-262-6255

Backroads, Berkeley, CA, backroads.com, 800-462-2848
Austin Adventures, Billings, austinadventures.com, 800-575-1540
Lindblad Expeditions – National Geographic
, New York, NY, 800-EXPEDITION, expeditions.com

Wildland Adventures, Seattle, WA, wildland.com, 800-345-4453

Kids-Friendly Walking Tours: Perhaps you are exploring roots or your heritage in a foreign country. Context Travel, which specializes in walking tours, has designed programs specifically for families with interactive experiences: a private tennis lesson on Henry VIII’s court in London; turn the whole family into samurais for the day in Kyoto; sweet immersion into French food in Paris; go underground to the forgotten streets and houses buried under Rome. Family walks also are available in cities across Europe, Asia, North America and Australia. Context also can create a custom family tour in the 37 cities where it offers programs across the globe. Contact info@contexttravel.com, 800.691.6036, www.contexttravel.com.

Danube Bike Trail is one of the best bike tours to take with kids © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Bike Tours: Biketours.com which specializes in Europe has recommended itineraries for families; I can personally recommend the Danube Bike Trail, Passau to Vienna, which I did with my sons – one of the best trips of my life. You can do it as a self-guided tour – it is very easy to follow, and that gives you more control over your schedule, as well as excellent value. BikeTours.com also offers an itinerary specially tailored for families with children (1222 Tremont Street, Chattanooga, TN 37377 ,877-462-2423, 423-756-8907, info@biketours.com, biketours.com).

We’ve also recommended outstanding biketours close at home that do good while giving everybody a great time: Parks & Trails NY, which offers the annual 8-day 400-mile Cycle the Erie ride, which is a camping and biking adventure that draws families with tiny tots in tow, as well as self-pedalers as young as 10 years old. A major highlight is camping out at Fort Stanwix, Rome NY, an 18th century living-history experience. (Parks & Trails New York at 518-434-1583 or visit www.ptny.org).

Three generations of the Parsegian family bike the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Sojourn on the Great Allegheny Passage © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Similarly Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (202-974-5150, Railstotrails.orgTrailLink.com) sponsors an annual Sojourn supported biketour that showcases bikeways that have been converted from old rail lines; their  annual ride is organized by Wilderness Voyageurs, which offers Ride the GAP trips with bed-and-breakfast accommodations (they portage luggage from inn to inn), as well as a full catalog of guided bike tours that includes Colorado; Missouri’s Katy Trail; Idaho’s Hiawatha & Coeur D’Alene; South Dakota’s Mickelson & the Badlands; the Erie Canal, Finger Lakes, and Adirondacks in New York; Shenandoah and the Civil War; Gettysburg & the Civil War; Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay; Pittsburgh to DC on the GAP & C&O; Pennsylvania’s Amish Country; Kentucky’s Bike & Bourbon; Georgia’s Gold Coast; and a biking trip in Cuba. (855-550-7705, Wilderness-Voyageurs.com)

Camping: Camping has really changed over time, frequently offering a range of experiences from rustic adventures to resort-style all in the same venue. Kampgrounds of America, with 485 locations in North America, makes it easy to find camping resorts by destination, amenities and programming (www.KOA.com). We have a personal favorite: the Herkimer Diamond Mines KOA is a true camping resort, set along a creek (tubing, fishing) and close by the Erie Canal (cruises, biking), and most unique of all, a chance to mine for Herkimer diamonds! The Herkimer KOA offers unbelievably delightful themed cabins (would you believe a cabin with its own planetarium?), fabulous activities. Choose a cabin, cottage or RV or tent site. (Herkimer Diamond KOA, 4626 State Route 28, Herkimer, NY 13350, 315-891-7355, E-mail: hdmkoa@ntcnet.comwww.herkimerdiamond.com; mining info at 315-717-0175,diamonds@ntcnet.com.)

Family gathers around a fire pit at Herkimer Diamond Mines KOA, a camping resort with themed cabins and a quarry where you can mine for diamond-like quartz © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The most intriguing in my book is the full-service Lion Country Safari’s award winning KOA campground located adjacent to a 320 acre drive through wild animal preserve and theme park, yet secluded enough for a restful campout (though you are apt to hear the lions roaring), offering RV sites, tent sites and rustic cabins (http://www.lioncountrysafari.com/koa/, 561-793-1084).

Sandy Pines Campground in Kennebunkport, Maine, opened for its second season with a roster of curated new experiences, custom designed glamping accommodations and engaging programming, Kids Camp and entertainment for every level and style of camper – from RVers and traditional tent campers to glampers. (277 Mills Road, Kennebunkport, Maine 04046, 207-967-2483, www.sandypinescamping.com)

Point Sebago is a resort spanning 775-acres on the shore of Sebago Lake in Casco, Maine. It has its roots as a campground, but while there are still 100 RV, travel trailer and tent sites available, it is a well-equipped resort affording small two-bedroom cabins, with a mile of sandy beach, an 18-hole, par-72 championship golf course that is hailed as one of the finest in Maine. There is a full activities program for kids and families – like a summer camp – with camp counselors, mini-golf, arts and crafts, kayaking, canoe races, boat rentals, fishing, swimming, sand volleyball, shuffleboard, golf, tennis, basketball, games, happy hours with entertainment and free hors d’oeuvres, nightly entertainment for families and adults, dancing, shows, and s’mores by the campfire, free wireless internet access. Also, great bass and landlocked salmon fishing. The resort is next to Maine State Park at Sebago Park where there are hiking trails. (Point Sebago, 261 Point Sebago Road, Route 302, Casco, ME 04015, 800-530-1555, 207-655-3821,info@pointsebago.com. 

Stay in a Dude Ranch – One of the best family experiences is on a dude ranch. New York State actually has several of them, such as Rocking Horse Ranch Resort, Highland, Hudson Valley, (845-691-2927, www.rockinghorseranch.com), which has been delighting generations of families with its all-inclusive fun (meals, entertainment, activities and riding). Pine Ridge Dude Ranch (the new owners of the venerable Pinegrove Ranch), 30 Cherrytown Rd, Kerhonkson, NY 12446-2148, 866-600-0859, www.pineridgeduderanch.com, reservations @pineridgeduderanch.com). Ridin’ Hy, an absolutely delightful guest ranch in the Adirondack State Park, near Lake George, Warrensburg, NY, Warrensburg, NY 12885, 518-494-2742, www.ridinhy.com. 

Further afield, check out the Colorado Dude & Guest Ranch Association members (www.coloradoranch.com, 866-942-3472), like the luxurious C Lazy U Ranch which since 1919 has provided highest level of personalized service, professional horsemanship programs, first-class amenities, enriching children’s programs, gourmet meals and upscale accommodations; or the Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch, which opened in 1912 and considered the oldest continuously operating guest ranch in Colorado, is also ideally located just southwest of Rocky Mountain National Park and nestled in a peaceful valley along the Colorado River.

Resorts with a Twist 

Sebasco Harbor Resort, Mid-Coast, Maine: This resort (“Pure Maine”) manages to be a delightful cross between a fine resort and a camp, with plenty of opportunity be outdoors, while still enjoying such refinements as golf on a superb course, full-service waterfront Fairwinds Spa, plus marvelous activities like kayaking (do the moonlight kayak trip, it is beyond fabulous), boating.. Actually, you can imagine Sebasco being the kind of “camp” that the Gilded Age moguls would have for one of their holiday homes. Nestled among whispering pines on the rugged coast Sebasco is tucked away on 550 acres with breathtaking views and a wealth of activities the entire family can enjoy. We stayed in the converted Lighthouse for the most magical experience. Check out special deals. (Sebasco Harbor Resort, 29 Kenyon Rd., Sebasco Estates, ME, 04565, 877-389-1161, info@sebasco.comwww.sebasco.com).

Moonlight kayak trip at Sebasco Harbor Resort, Midcoast, Maine © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Among our favorite grand, historic resorts for families for facilities, activities programs, destination, sense of heritage and “place,” and overall ahhh experience:

Basin Harbor Club, Vergennes, Vermont on 700 acres of Lake Champlain shoreline is about the best family-friendly luxury resort you can imagine with golf, hiking, biking, kayaking, cruises on Lake Champlain, fishing, watersports, tennis, outdoor pool children’s activities program (4800 Basin Harbor Road Vergennes, VT 05491 info@basinharbor.com, 800.622.4000 or 802.475.2311, www.basinharbor.com).

Basin Harbor Club, a grand, luxurious resort on Lake Champlain, Vermont, is a spectacular venue for families to come together © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Mountain Top Inn & Resort, tucked in a Courier & Ives landscape in Chittenden, Vermont, near Killington, has all the charm, the warmth, the cozy, intimate hospitality of a country inn, and all the luxury, amenities, activities and quality dining of a resort. It offers just about every outdoors activity you can imagine, even an equestrian center, private lakeside beach, children’s adventure camp, tennis, disc golf, clay-bird shooting, and hiking, biking, golf nearby. (195 Mountain Top Road, Chittenden, Vermont 05737, 802-483-2311, www.MountainTopInn.com)

A real novelty in historic hotels (and a fantastic city to visit) is the Choo Choo Train Hotel in Chattanooga, TN, where you actually stay in a historic train car (motel rooms also available), and the station is the restaurant and lobby (1400 Market Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402, 423-266-5000, 800-Track29, choochoo.com)

You can stay in one of the historic train cars at Chattanooga’s famous Choo Choo Train Hotel © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Other resort favorites: 

Cranwell Resort, Spa and Golf Club, Lenox, Massachusetts

Omni Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

The Sagamore, Bolton Landing, Lake George, New York

Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, New York

The Hotel Hershey, Hershey, Pennsylvania (added benefit: proximity to Hershey theme park).

Skytop Lodge, Skytop, Pennsylvania

More at Historic Hotels of America, historichotels.org, 800-678-8946. 

Cruising is always a great choice for families – a way to see lots of different places with minimal hassle. Best itineraries (and cruiselines that have best family programs) are to Alaska, the Galapagos (really a favorite for grandparents to take their grandkids).

For those who want a floating resort with rock walls, ropes course, ziplines, glitzy Broadway and Las Vegas-style entertainment and great supervised children’s activity programs, the most acclaimed lines are Royal Caribbean (Anthem, Symphony, Harmony, Allure, Oasis of the Seas); Norwegian Cruise Line (Norwegian Escape, Breakaway, Getaway, Epic); Carnival Cruise Line (Carnival Vista, Breeze, Dream, Magic); Disney Cruise Line (Disney Dream, Fantasy, Magic) and Princess Cruises. (See more at www.cruisecritic.com).

But here is a novel choice: Maine Windjammer Cruises – these are historic sailing vessels repurposed for passengers, that ply the waters around Rockland and Camden, Maine in the Penobscot Bay. The experience is more rustic (part of the fun!), where passengers can help raise and lower sails, even steer, help serve and gather the plates for meals served in the galley or on deck. You can even choose to sleep out under the stars instead of in the cabin, which is outfitted more like you would expect of summer camp, with bunk beds and shared bathroom facilities (hot showers are available). All the cruises typically include a lobster bake on a secluded beach.

Share in the thrill of the Great Schooner Race aboard one of the historic sailing ships in the Maine Windjammer fleet © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Many of the cruises have special-interest themes, and some are very dramatic, that include a Schooner Gam, where all the historic schooners gather in one place and tie up and passengers can go and visit; there is also an annual Schooner Race which is tremendous fun. Visit the Maine Windjammer Association for a list and description of age-appropriate sailings (usually 10 years old). In the past, we have sailed on the Victory Chimes (the largest in the fleet), the American Eagle and the Isaac H Evans (www.sailmainecoast.com/ 800-807-9463).

Rent a Mid-Lakes Navigation Lockmaster canalboat and explore the Erie Canal to see how America came to be © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Another novel experience is renting a canalboat on the Erie Canal, tying up where whimsy takes you and exploring the canaltowns on foot and by bike on the tow-path that has been turned into a bikeway. It’s an amazing way to immerse yourself in history, and terrific fun to go through the locks, and have the bridges lift just for you. Mid-Lakes Navigation, Skaneateles, has these specially designed Lockmaster canalboats that are easy to maneuver, very comfortable, and oh so charming. (800-545-4318, info@midlakesnav.com, midlakesnav.com).

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© 2018 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Photo Highlights from 15th Annual Memorial Day Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach, Long Island

US Navy Blue Angels headline the 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Performers 2018:   United States Navy Blue Angels – Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds – U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor (Lockheed Martin) – United States Army Golden Knights – Sean D. Tucker – Team Oracle – John Klatt Airshows – “Screamin Sasquatch”  – Matt Chapman – Embry Riddle  – GEICO Skytypers  – American Air Power Museum Warbirds – SUNY Farmingdale Aviation – 106th Rescue Wing Static Displays:  NY Guard Military Vehicles  Announcer: Rob Reider  Airboss: Wayne Boggs

 

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Flying stunts with unbelievable negative and positive G forces, tactical maneuvers at impossible speeds with incredible precision, zooming to stratospheric heights, nearly 400,000 who cram into Jones Beach State Park over two days of the 15th Annual Memorial Day Weekend Bethpage Air Show are thrilled beyond measure at the heart-stopping skill and daring on display directly in view, with nothing but the horizon beyond.

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels, last at Jones Beach in 2016, are returning to the Bethpage Air Show for their eighth performance during their 72nd anniversary season and will provide the climatic final performance of the show at approximately 2 p.m. The Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds will be making their fourth performance at the Bethpage Air Show, where they will thrill fans with more than 50 different formations and maneuvers. (See photo highlights)

Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds performing in the 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

The F-22 Raptor, the United States Air Force’s newest fighter aircraft, which performs both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions, will also make an appearance at the 15th anniversary show.  The F-22 was designed to project air dominance, rapidly and at great distances, and defeat threats attempting to deny access to our nation’s Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. The F-22 cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter aircraft. The F-22 will perform for crowds with its own remarkable demonstration, as well as alongside the United States Air Force Heritage Flight Team for a special aerial performance.

Geico Skytypers performing in the 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Other thrilling performers at this year’s show include the United States Army Golden Knights Parachute Team, performing in their 13th Bethpage Air Show; legendary air show pilot Sean Tucker performing in his custom-built Oracle Challenger II biplane; extraordinary aerobatic pilot Matt Chapman; the John Klatt Airshows — Jack Links’ Screamin’ Sasquatch Jet Waco Aerobatic Team; the world famous GEICO Skytypers and their flight squadron of six vintage WWII aircraft; the American Airpower Museum Warbirds; Long Island’s own David Windmiller; the Yankee Lady B17, our hometown, 106th Air Rescue Wing will show their support by performing  a HC-130 and HH-60 fly-by demonstration; and new for their third air show performance, the SUNY Farmingdale State College Flying Rams, who will fly seven of their 22 college-owned aircraft in a fly-by piloted by their top academic professional pilot performers.

The US Army’s Parachute team, the Golden Knights in the 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

“This year we have a remarkable lineup of world-class performers, and are very pleased to welcome back the United States Navy Blue Angels to Long Island. We are also especially excited to be included in the Grunt Style Air Show Majors Tour, which unites the most prestigious air shows in the country,” said George Gorman, deputy regional director, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.   “The tour was developed to help increase awareness for the air show industry, so we look forward to welcoming many new guests to Jones Beach for our amazing show.”

“The Bethpage Air Show is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, due in large part to the endless enthusiasm and passion of our audience,” said Linda Armyn, senior vice president of corporate affairs, Bethpage. “We are all privileged to be able to continue to honor our nation’s military by bringing many of the world’s best military and civilian performers together for a show of this magnitude. The Bethpage Air Show has become a celebrated Long Island tradition, and we looking forward to another wonderful show.”

US Navy Blue Angels do their famous spray over Jones Beach at the Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Two years ago, when the Blue Angels last headlined the show, the Bethpage Air Show had record-breaking attendance with 453,000 spectators.  Last year, over 347,000 fans attended the Bethpage Air Show when the United States Air Force Thunderbirds headlined the show.

Here are more photo highlights:

Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds performing in the 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds performing in the 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds performing in the 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
John Klatt in the Jack Links’ Screamin’ Sasquatch at the 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
John Klatt in the Jack Links’ Screamin’ Sasquatch at the 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
The F-22 Raptor, the United States Air Force’s newest fighter aircraft, shows off its capabilities at the 15th anniversary Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The F-22 Raptor, the United States Air Force’s newest fighter aircraft, shows off its capabilities at the 15th anniversary Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Geico Skytypers performing in the 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Geico Skytypers performing in the 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Geico Skytypers performing in the 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
US Army Golden Knights traveling in freefall at 120 mph before their parachutes open, at 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
A perennial favorite at Jones Beach is Sean Tucker, who performs impossible feats in a specially built, one-of-a-kind, most high-performance aerobatic aircraft in the world, the Oracle Bi-Plane © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
US Navy Blue Angels headline the 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

In addition to Bethpage Federal Credit Union and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach is sponsored by Newsday, WABC-TV Channel 7, PSEG Long Island, Natural Heritage Trust, the U.S. Army, Loacker, New York Islanders and Connoisseur Media Long Island. The show can be heard in its entirety on WHLI 1100 and 1370 AM. Bethpage Air Show announcers lead air show activities from the Jones Beach State Park Central Mall Boardwalk area where food, beverages and ground activities are available.

The Bethpage Air Show is free to the public, but the standard $10 vehicle use fee is collected each day upon entry to the State Park. For the 2018 NYS Empire Passport holders, there is no vehicle use fee charge.

For $80, the Empire Passport card provides unlimited vehicle access to most facilities operated by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Empire Passports are available for purchase at any Long Island State Park and can be utilized immediately to enjoy the forests, the seashores and the lakefronts of New York State’s parks through all of New York’s beautiful seasons.

For more information about this year’s show, visit http://www.bethpageairshow.com or contact the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Regional Office, Recreation Department at 631-321-3510.

See also:

US Navy Blue Angels at 15th Annual Memorial Day Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach, Long Island: Photo Highlights

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© 2018 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

US Navy Blue Angels at 15th Annual Memorial Day Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach, Long Island: Photo Highlights

US Navy Blue Angels performing at 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

The world-renowned United States Navy Blue Angels and the Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds will headline the 15th Annual Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach, taking place Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 26 and Sunday, May 27, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The heart-stopping event is presented by Bethpage Federal Credit Union and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and draws some 400,000 people.

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels, last at Jones Beach in 2016, returned to the Bethpage Air Show for their eighth performance during their 72nd anniversary season and provide the climatic final performance of the show.

The US Navy Blue Angels flying F18 Hornets, were formed in 1946 as a flight demonstration team to keep the public interested in naval aviation. The Hornet can fly at speeds of more than Mach 1.7 – that is more than 1,294 mph – but during this performance, they kept it to just half of that, just below the point they would break the sound barrier. Still, there are times when they all approached from different directions at a combined speed of 1,000 mph; and when you see opposing fighter planes come at each other at 400 mph.

Here are highlights.

Opposing US Navy Blue Angels F-18 Hornets fly at each other at 400 mph at 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
US Navy Blue Angels performing at 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin /goingplacesfarandnear.com
US Navy Blue Angels performing at 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
US Navy Blue Angels performing at 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
US Navy Blue Angels performing at 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
US Navy Blue Angels performing at 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
US Navy Blue Angels performing at 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Opposing US Navy Blue Angels F-18 Hornets fly at each other, one upside down, at 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
US Navy Blue Angels performing at 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Opposing US Navy Blue Angels F-18 Hornets fly at each other at 400 mph at 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
US Navy Blue Angels performing at 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Precision flying by US Navy Blue Angels demonstrating capability of F18 Hornets, at 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Precision flying by US Navy Blue Angels demonstrating capability of F18 Hornets, at 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
US Navy Blue Angels performing at 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
US Navy Blue Angels performing at 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Precision flying by US Navy Blue Angels demonstrating capability of F18 Hornets, at 2018 Bethpage Air Show, Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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© 2018 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

URBAN POP Exhibit Brings 5 Notable Artists to Gold Coast Arts Center, Great Neck, Long Island

Lenny Achan, Michelle Carollo, Will Power, Shiro and Luis “Zimad” Lamboy with Gold Coast Arts Center director Regina Gil and curator Jude Amsel © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

 

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Some of the most illustrious artists of Urban Pop are on view a short distance from the mean streets of the city: The Gold Coast Arts Center has again chosen to showcase graffiti, street artists and media savants of urban culture in its exhibit, “URBAN POP,” on view through September 8. Fans had a chance to meet the five featured artists at an opening reception, May 20, at the Great Neck, Long Island gallery.

“The art scene has developed significantly since the 1970s with the introduction of using popular culture (pop art) as a source of inspiration,” writes exhibit curator and gallery director Jude Amsel. “Many contemporary artists have now merged other modern influences such as street art, graffiti, architecture and urban culture into their work.

Gold Coast Arts Center Director Regina Gil with artist Meres One in front of his painting, at the opening of URBAN POP exhibit © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Among the artists featured in Urban Pop, include Shiro, whose controversial work appeared on the murals at 5Pointz, a warehouse complex and graffiti mecca in Queens, and Luis “Zimad” Lamboy. Their work, along with several other artists, was subsequently destroyed when whitewashed by the property owner and was the subject of a prolonged court battle, ultimately decided in favor of the artists, awarding them $6.75 million. On hand at the reception was Jonathan “Meres One” Cohen, one of the most prominent graffiti artists and a leader at 5Pointz, who has painted sections of the arts center.

Works by Luis “Zimad” Lamboy, Will Power, Shiro, Michelle Carollo and Lenny Achan are on view at URBAN POP at the Gold Coast Arts Center Gallery, Great Neck, Long Island through Sept. 8, 2018 © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Shiro actually provided the theme for the show, gallery director and curator Jude Amsel said. “She is marking her 20th anniversary as a graffiti artist. She is like Lady Pink – one of the world’s most famous graffiti artists.”

Her paintings feature a consistent character – her alter ego.

“Since I was little, I have been deaf in one ear. I wasn’t communicating with people. My family kept moving for my father’s job. It was hard to make new friends, so I kept drawing a character – my imaginary friend. I wasn’t lonely with my friend. Now I travel all over world by myself – India, Brazil, China – 18 countries. I can travel by myself because I have my best friend,” says Shiro.

She leaves her images like an “I was here” stamp in the places she visits.

“People call me to do the murals, big murals, with my character, my best friend. I leave her on the wall in the country. I keep creating my character.”

She covers her face when I photograph her with her painting. “I don’t want to worry about how I look, I want people to see my art,” she says.

Shiro with one of her New York City, hip-hop inspired paintings at the opening of URBAN POP at Gold Coast Art Center gallery, Great Neck, Long Island © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Shiro grew up in Tokyo and began her career as an aerosol artist in 1998. “As a young artist, I fell in love with hip-hop. In Japan, the only way to get information about hip-hop culture was to read books, watch videos, and listen to music. I used to go to clubs in Japan every weekend with friends and other artists to dance and paint, all the while imagining what it would be like to experience the movement in NYC at the time.”

She came to New York in 2002, inspired by a film, “Wild Style” to see the Bronx.

In celebration of her 20th anniversary as an aerosol artist, she began her “90’s project’” by painting walls internationally.

She’s been living in New York for the past four years, “the city I used to dream about.”

Luis “Zimad” Lamboy discusses his multi-media work in URBAN POP at Gold Coast Art Center gallery, Great Neck, Long Island © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Luis “Zimad” Lamboy is showing pieces created for the show that draw upon his early career. “In the mid-80’s I discovered creating graffiti, collage and mixed media on paper which wasn’t being done at the time by any of my peers. It’s been awhile since I’ve gone back to doing this style of work. I felt it necessary in order to move forward in my career to look back and fine tune what I had started. The new works are vibrating with color and life and feel as it tells a story of walls I’ve done, characters I’ve created and the many people I’ve had the honor of meeting and calling brothers and sisters.

“Red Devil” (2014) by Luis “Zimad” Lamboy on view at URBAN POP at the Gold Coast Arts Center Gallery, Great Neck © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

Michelle Carollo’s major work, “Steampunk Davis,” is a large-scale (8’ x 8’ x 4’) 3-D construction, inspired by 1930s modernist painter, Stuart Davis. “This is an homage to his work.” It’s constructed of the discarded junk she found around her Brooklyn studio.

You feel the power, a kinetic energy of the piece.

“My work explores gender, pop-culture, and domestic industry,” she writes. “It uses humor and color to capture the energy, power and tension in contemporary culture. By using a series of symbols, figures and built handicraft, my work blends the playful with the serious.

Michelle Carollo with “Steampunk Davis” at the opening of URBAN POP at Gold Coast Art Center gallery, Great Neck, Long Island © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

“I draw on multiple references from cartoons to graffiti and entertainment, as well as technology and the history of art. I find there is something completely ridiculous and pleasurable in making deceptively simple imagery. The result is a visual mash-up that remixes spontaneous information with a type of balanced order.”

The drawings are her studies for the larger piece to “help figure what color, patterns, shapes,” she says.

She also is exhibiting a quilt, demonstrating the versatility of the application of her kinetic scope. “I just started working with fabric.”

Carollo, who conquers “one white wall at a time,” has exhibited at MOMA PS1.

Lenny Achan’s style reflects his experiences growing up in New York City as a graffiti and street artist in the early 1990s. The works look as if origami were sucked into a canvas, but it is an illusion: he cuts New York City transit maps into precise shapes and assembles them, adding transparent spray paint as shadow to complete the illusion of 3-D.

“People looking at NYC transit maps likely means they are stressed out. I wanted to give people a reason to smile.”

Lenny Achan with “Cityboy” in URBAN POP at Gold Coast Art Center gallery, Great Neck, Long Island © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Achan describes himself as “an artist and inventor, influenced by my time growing up in NYC” but embracing experiences outside of the traditional art world to enhance and influence his creative expression.

“I am a student of the laws of nature and sacred geometry and draw from the complexities of everyday life to create pieces that help audiences reflect on more simple times. My philosophy of modern art and the street art movement has been heavily influenced through studying and experiencing global disruption of various commercial and political industries. Art in all forms is a vehicle for innovation and communication. I used everything around me to create and share my view of the world.”

“CityBoy” by Lenny Achan on view at URBAN POP at the Gold Coast Arts Center Gallery, Great Neck © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

He says, “I wanted to use sacred geometry to mimic life. Geometry is sacred to the philosophy of origami – shapes, whether a person or a bumble bee – are shapes of geometry.

“It is formulaic – they mimic and respect the complexity of math, science, biology, while at same time” break down to simpler, essential shapes.

Achan clearly achieved his desired impact: a woman reflecting on his NYC Transit Map dog, “Cityboy,” exclaims how it brought her pure joy.

Will Power is striving to make INV8ERS an iconic figure for urban art culture worldwide © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Will Power, a self-taught contemporary artist who was influenced by graffiti and hip-hop culture,  describes the INV8DERS  series of works in the exhibit as “a hybrid fusion of a New York City pigeon with spray paint can. The pigeon represents Graffiti and Street artists, the spray paint can head represents Contemporary Urban Art.” He is striving to make INV8ERS an iconic figure for urban art culture worldwide. He describes the vibrant colorful background as his foundation, his evolution from graffiti. “the ability to combine these various colors is a skill learned from many years of being a graffiti artist. The INV8DERS are a perfect amalgam of graffiti, street art and fine art.”

URBAN POP exhibit curator Jude Amsel says the five artists “bring a myriad of visual cultural influences to their fine art practice.” © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

These artists “bring a myriad of visual cultural influences to their fine art practice,” said Gold Coast Arts Center’s Gallery Director and exhibit Curator Jude Amsel,  Some hone their skills on the street, others working in the studio find their version of popular urban art, some having a unique language of their own not categorized within a specific movement.  However, each one of the artists offers something unique and different as to their expression of Urban Pop.”

For more information, visit http://goldcoastarts.org/urban-pop/ or call 516-829-2570.

The Gold Coast Arts Center is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting the arts through education, exhibition, performance and outreach. Located on the North Shore of Long Island, it has brought the arts to tens of thousands of people throughout the region for more than 20 years. Among the Center’s offerings are its School for the Arts, which holds year-round classes in visual and performing arts for students of all ages and abilities; a free public art gallery; a concert and lecture series; film screenings and discussions; the annual Gold Coast International Film Festival; and initiatives that focus on senior citizens and underserved communities. These initiatives include artist residencies, after-school programs, school assemblies, teacher-training workshops and parent-child workshops. The Gold Coast Arts Center is an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Partners in Education program, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Gold Coast Arts Center, 113 Middle Neck Road, Great Neck, NY 11021, 516-829-2570, www.goldcoastarts.org.

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© 2018 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com,  www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin , and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

32,000 Cyclists Take Over NYC Streets for 41st TD Five Boro Bike Tour

32,000 riders line up for the start of the 41st annual TD Five Boro Bike Tour of New York City © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

I was thinking of Nancy Vadreen, the student ambassador for the 41st annual TD Five Boro Bike Tour, as I flew down the mile-long descent off of the Verrazano Bridge (after the mile-long ascent) that deposits the 32,000 cyclists into the festival venue on Staten Island, feeling the wind in my face, so refreshing and freeing.

Nancy Vadreen, the student ambassador for the 41st annual TD Five Boro Bike Tour, describes her yearning as a 30-something, to learn how to ride a bicycle © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

At the send-off for the ride that morning, she had described that feeling as a yearning. She was a 30-something who had never learned to ride a bike. “I dreamed of riding.” She went on the internet and discovered that Bike New York offers free classes at  many locations throughout the city. In fact, 25,000 people last year learned how to ride through Bike New York, the largest free biking education program in the country, and the annual TD Five Boro Bike Tour is the main fundraiser.

And here she was, riding in the 40-mile bike tour. “I’m proud and grateful to be riding the 40-miles at the TD Bike Tour. To learn to ride, to feel the wind when you coast downhill.”

I saw her again on the Staten Island ferry back to Manhattan after completing the ride – the thrill of accomplishment was still on her face.

REI, the presenting sponsor of the tour, pointed to the company credo, “Life outdoors is life well lived, it forges better connection to yourself.”

Kurt Feilke, retail director for the Northeast district for REI, the presenting sponsor of the tour, pointed to the company credo, “Life outdoors is life well lived, it forges better connection to yourself.” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Such an outdoors experience does even more – it fosters such a sense of comradeship, this shared experience. And  it brings you into neighborhoods that are so typically New York, with bands and entertainment to cheer and inspire the riders.

What is so special about New York City’s TD Five Boro Bike Tour is how, for one day, you and 32,000 of your closest friends, feel like you own the city. The streets, bridges and highways – like Sixth Avenue, the FDR Drive, the Queensborough Bridge, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Verrazano (the longest suspension bridge in the Americas) are your domain. It makes you giddy. Neighborhoods ring with sound and spirit – Greenwich Village, Harlem, Astoria, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, DUMBO, Staten Island, Central Park’s blossoms seem to burst just for us.

First wave of riders head up Sixth Avenue for the start of the 41st Annual TD Five Boro Bike Tour © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The ride this year marked the 41st year of this event, which is the largest noncompetitive bike tour in North America. The ride has come quite a long way from that first one, in 1977, when just 250 people participated.

Riders, who race to get a spot as soon as registrations open (participation is limited to 32,000 but could easily be thousands more), came from every state in the nation (yes, Hawaii and Alaska), and this year came from 40 countries.

New York City has really embraced biking, and now offers 1,000 miles of dedicated bike lanes; some 800,000 New Yorkers regularly bike, said NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg  The city is improving its connection between Manhattan and the Bronx. “There’s never been a better time to bike in New York.”

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer sends riders off on the TD Five Boro Bike Tour © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said “Thank you for your bike lane advocacy, for being healthy, for being part of the city’s future.” She thanked the DOT for making the Harlem River Bridges safe.

The annual event raises money for bike education. Bike New York operates bike education centers, after school programs, summer camps, and this year launched a Women’s Initiative, as well as its first membership program. “Alums” from the bike education program are joining the ride this year as “Student Ambassadors.”

Numerous charities also use the event for fundraising, purchasing registrations which participants then raise money against. This year, 1,200 riders representing 57 charities, collectively raised $1 million, said Ken Podziba, President & CEO of Bike New York.

The bike tour is also a model of sustainability, promoting recycling, water conservation, becoming the largest sporting event to be certified for sustainability by the Council for Responsible Sport 3 years ago. Each rest stop featured “zero waste” receptacles. Even the rider numbers were recycled.

The ride is designed to be a family friendly tour, not a competition, appealing to all abilities, ages – volunteers hold signs to slow the pace and alert riders to turns and obstacles.

TD Bank, which has been the title sponsor for the past 12 years, pointed to the continual expansion of sustainability efforts.

There’s a lot of good will here REI raises $5 million for community organizations.

But it is mostly in the one-to-one, the shared excitement that goes through all the people.

Riders are sent off by the choral singing of the national anthem by Music With a Message © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The 40-miles pass with one broad smile – we are sent off by the choral singing of Music With a Message, socially-conscious youth who inspire positive change and bring their message of love, hope in their singing.

At 6th Avenue we get our first cheering squad – there are at least one in every borough – and bands representing their borough, including Bombayo, Giant Flying Turtles, Night Spins and the Rusty Guns (one of my favorites).

Ken Podziba, President & CEO of Bike New York © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“The thing that ultimately makes the event so special has remained a constant and can be summed up in one word: diversity,” writes Bike New York CEO Podziba in the official guide to the tour. “For decades, we’ve welcomed riders from dozens of countries and from every corner of this one, children and octogenarians, bike messengers, weekend warriors, everyday commuters, and even unicyclists, old pros and first timers… You never know who’ll be standing next to you at the starting line – they may be from a country you’ve never heard of.

“But diversity isn’t simply what makes our ridership so special – it’s also what makes New York City like no other place on the planet. Depending on who you ask, as many as 800 languages are spoken here. As you ride through all five of our beautiful boroughs… you’ll get the experience a 40-mile slice of the most populous, dynamic and ethnically diverse city in the country.”

Every manner of cycle can be seen on the TD Five Boro Bike Tour. Here, a loving grandson takes his grandmother in a rickshaw-style cycle so she can enjoy the experience. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There are any number of incarnations of bikes – tandems, kiddie carts, even elliptical contraptions that seem better suited to a gym (I meet a woman from Salt Lake City who said that 100 of them joined the tour from all parts of the country). There was even a grandson riding a rickshaw so his grandmother could have the joy of the Five Boro tour.

Indeed, everyone marvels at how well organized the ride is and all the precautions that are taken to make the ride safe, though we did see some spills and marveled at how quickly aid was provided..

We are 32,000 riders, but there are 2,000 volunteers who assist all along the way – marshals and course captains and EMS, and people along the route who tell us when to slow down and prepare for a turn, and rest stop people who hand out water and snacks.

And there is such a sense of liberation to take over New York City’s streets.

The band Bombayo entertains riders in the Bronx © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com

The ride embraces all five boroughs – and each shows off with street entertainment, raising the spirits of the riders along the route, and at rest stops (Clif Bar sponsored a DJ and entertainment at the Con Ed rest area) and at the Finish Festival on Staten Island (still three miles from the actual 40-mile mark, at the ferry terminal), where, all the finishers received a medal (and TD sponsored a free massage).

Here are more highlights:

TD Five Boro Bike Tour heads rides through Central Park © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Taking over the streets: TD Five Boro Bike Tour goes through the FDR tunnel © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Riding over the Queensborough Bridge © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
The famous Silvercup sign greens riders as they come into Queens © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Riding down the ramp from the Queensborough Bridge, with Manhattan Skyline © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Riding down the ramp from the Queensborough Bridge © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Street art along the TD Five Boro Bike Tour route © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Street art along the TD Five Boro Bike Tour route © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Live Poultry Slaughter (Comedy Club) © Karen Rubin/ goingplacesfarandnear.com
Making the turn © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
One of most dramatic views of the ride: Empire State Building framed by Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The finish line of the TD Five Boro Bike Tour is a festival on Staten Island © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

As in recent years, the  bike tour is preceded by a two-day Bike Expo, when bikers can take advantage of discounts and giveaways by scores of bike, biking gear, and bike tour companies and destinations from Quebec in Canada, to Taiwan, and special biking events through the World Association of Cycling Events.

I learned about a new online biking trip planner for the state of Maine, organized by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, various biking groups and clubs (www.bikemaine.org/wheretoride), as well as Maine’s annual 8-Day Bike Maine trip with 450 riders going 320 miles (2018 is fully booked). There’s also the Bold Cost Scenic Bikeway, 211 miles of low-traffic, on-road riding; you can get detailed online and printable maps, GPS data, and local information to organize a self-guided ride (BikeBoldCoast.com).

Also, a 45-day cross-country bike tour, from San Diego, California to St. Augustine, Florida, with luxury accommodations (none of this camping stuff), fine dining, for $13,000, through Cycle of Life Adventures (they also have less ambitious itineraries). (cycleoflifeadventures.com, 303-945-9886).

Bike New York, 475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY, Suite 1300, New York, NY 10115, www.bikenewyork.org, Follow @bikenewyork on Facebook and Instagram.

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