Category Archives: Festivals and Events

New York City’s 43rd Annual Village Halloween Parade Inspires Reverie

New York City’s 43rd Annual Village Halloween Parade, the largest in the world, was themed “Reverie” © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
New York City’s 43rd Annual Village Halloween Parade, the largest in the world, was themed “Reverie” © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

The 43rd Annual Village Halloween Parade, the largest Halloween event in the world, got underway with extraordinary precision, as all the skeletons, ghouls and monsters – some 50,000 in all – got into order for the march up New York’s 6th Avenue to the rhythm of a host of bands.

New York City’s 43rd Annual Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
New York City’s 43rd Annual Village Halloween Parade is living art © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The theme this year invited participants to “Sink into Reverie —that liminal space in which one creates.”

Skeletons on parade in New York City © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Skeletons on parade in New York City © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“One thinks of Halloween as a chance to fantasize, but more than anything Halloween lets us realize, allowing us to play ourselves, leaving the remainder of the year for sleepwalking…. In these moments of reverie, our eyes are fresh, a child’s eyes. Our thoughts unfettered by habit, ideas and inspirations swirl in. So this year we celebrate Reverie, inviting one and all to recreate their waking dreams.”

Fantastical figures delight parade watchers on 6th Avenue. Tens of thousands turned out to watch the 43rd Annual Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Fantastical figures delight parade watchers on 6th Avenue. Tens of thousands turned out to watch the 43rd Annual Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Indeed, this is one day a year when New Yorkers, en masse, release their inner exhibitionist, their inner Action Hero. It’s Body English, when your entire being is a placard to transmit your message. For some, it is a way of releasing inner rage, anxiety, and confront demons. For others, it is a way to convey spiritual blessings, cheer.

Skeletons join the 43rd annual Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Skeletons join the 43rd annual Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

This year had its Willy Wonkas, the Egyptian Pharoahs (one carried a “10 Commandments for the 21st Century that included “gender equality” and “no more wars”), Action Heroes and Cartoon characters, spirits from myth and folklore, and a good smattering of political characters and commentary, with candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (more mocking him than her), Anonymous, and against the NRA.

More than 50,000 join in the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
More than 50,000 join in the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Tens of thousands of people lined the route, which extended a mile from Spring Street up to 16th Street, delighting all as the bigger-than-life skeleton puppets poked into the crowd and stilt walkers and costumed characters engaged.

Gay Lesbian Marching Band join the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Gay Lesbian Marching Band join the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Creativity is on full view, a mischievous spirit in the air – this is New York City’s Carnival and Mummers wrapped into one.

Fantastical figures delight Village Halloween Parade watchers © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Fantastical figures delight Village Halloween Parade watchers © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

It is amazingly artful, marvelous to behold – indeed, producer Jeanne Fleming, who took over the planning for the parade after its 8th year when the crowd reached 100,000, saw the Village Halloween Parade as an art installation.

More than 50,000 join in the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
More than 50,000 join in the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

And the scenics! with the lights of the Freedom Tower downtown, the church at Greenwich with its giant spider crawling down the side and the tower lighted, and the Empire State, lit in crackling light show for the occasion uptown, and the buildings lining 6th Avenue like canyon walls – creating a fantastical atmosphere in which the walking creatures and monsters feel most at home.

Parade producer Jeanne Fleming has made the Village Halloween Parade into an art installation that inspires a sense of community © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Parade producer Jeanne Fleming has made the Village Halloween Parade into an art installation that inspires a sense of community © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“New York’s Village Halloween Parade is committed to the cultural and imaginative life of New York City and to the advancement of large-scale participatory events in the belief that such events, when artistically inspired, can play a major role in the resurrection and rejuvenation of the City’s spirit, economy and the life of its people,” is the mission statement. “Fleeting as it may seem, the Annual Village Halloween Parade provides a subconsciously experienced time structure that lends a sense of durability, continuity and community to New York City life.”

The Village Halloween Parade is a rhythmic musical extravaganza © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Village Halloween Parade is a rhythmic musical extravaganza © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Indeed, it is a collective giggle, a communal hug against the forces beyond control, and while you are in the spirit of it, you forget everything beyond.

Ghostly presence in the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Ghostly presence in the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Walking around Manhattan, with the oddest sights (half the time, you don’t know if people are wearing costumes), just adds to the special thrill of Halloween in New York City.

More than 50,000 join in the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
More than 50,000 join in the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

From humble beginnings in 1974 when Greenwich Village mask maker and puppeteer Ralph Lee started a walk from house to house for his children and friends, the Village Halloween Parade, now headed by Artist and Producer Jeanne Fleming, has become an iconic event of New York City, with some 60,000 participants and tens of thousands of onlookers.

New York City’s Annual Village Halloween Parade is the largest nighttime Halloween event in the world © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
New York City’s Annual Village Halloween Parade is the largest nighttime Halloween event in the world © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Village Halloween Parade, the only major night parade in the country, is the largest public Halloween celebration in the world. It has been named as “The Greatest Event on Earth” for October 31 by Festivals International, and has been listed as one of the “100 Things to Do Before You Die.”

Three guys who know something about the afterlife. The Village Halloween Parade has been listed as one of the "100 Things to Do Before You Die." © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Three guys who know something about the afterlife. The Village Halloween Parade has been listed as one of the “100 Things to Do Before You Die.” © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The ghouls and ghosts in the parade certainly would agree.

A wink and a nod from some of the fantastical characters in the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
A wink and a nod from some of the fantastical characters in the Village Halloween Parade © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

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© 2016 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com 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

‘Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ Halloween Events – Ghouls & All – Return to Historic Hudson Valley

Halloween in Historic Hudson Valley: Horseman's Hollow at Philipsburg © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Halloween in Historic Hudson Valley: Horseman’s Hollow at Philipsburg © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Washington Irving’s macabre tale, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” is the inspiration for Horseman’s Hollow, a spectacularly produced interactive Halloween haunted attraction at the colonial-era Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.

It is one of a series of Historic Hudson Valley’s Halloween season spectacular events taking place over an unprecedented 32 nights. They are the largest Halloween events in the tri-state area and are expected to draw more than 150,000 visitors to Sleepy Hollow Country. They take place in several Historic Hudson Valley venues, each one an important attraction.

Washington Irving’s macabre tale The Legend of Sleepy Hollow inspires Horseman’s Hollow, an interactive haunted attraction taking place over 14 nights at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, an estate that dates back to colonial times. But for Halloween, it is stocked with professional actors and state-of-the-art special effects and lighting. Take note: Horseman’s Hollow has a high fear factor, which is why it is so popular with teenagers. (Recommended for ages 10 and up.)

Irving’s ‘Legend,’ recommended for ages 10 and up, brings the master storyteller Jonathan Kruk into the historic, candlelit interior of Sleepy Hollow’s circa-1685 Old Dutch Church, where for 14 afternoons and evenings he offers a dramatic re-telling of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow accompanied by live organ music.

The Legend Behind the ‘Legend’ is a daytime experience at Washington Irving’s Sunnyside homestead in Tarrytown, N.Y., that highlights the author of the famous story.

Halloween in Historic Hudson Valley: Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Halloween in Historic Hudson Valley: Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

And continuing for a record 32 selected evenings through Nov. 13, The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze® is the Hudson Valley’s biggest all-ages Halloween extravaganza. A small team of artists comes together to carve more than 7,000 jacks, many fused together in elaborate constructions such as life-size dinosaurs and eight-foot-tall working jack-o’lanterns-in-the-box, all lit up throughout the wooded walkways, orchards, and gardens of historic Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.

Headless Horseman Rides Again

Philipsburg Manor, is but a few miles up the road from Washington Irving’s homestead at Sunnyside and, legend has it, is the setting for his classic story. The village, which was once known as North Tarrytown, actually changed its name to Sleepy Hollow in 1996.

But here at the 350-year old Philipsburg Manor, one of the Historic Hudson Valley historic sites, you can easily imagine the “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” as Irving saw it in his mind.

Now in its 7th year, Horseman’s Hollow, which welcomed more than 30,000 visitors last year, is a haunted experience in the heart of Sleepy Hollow that takes the tale of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to its darkest extremes. Historic Philipsburg Manor transforms into a terrifying landscape ruled by the undead, the evil, and the insane, all serving the Headless Horseman himself.

For 14 nights, historic Philipsburg Manor transforms into a terrifying landscape ruled by the undead, the evil, and the insane, all serving the Headless Horseman himself.

Colonial ghouls inhabit Horseman’s Hollow, at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, NY © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Colonial ghouls inhabit Horseman’s Hollow, at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, NY © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The 300-year old manor house, barn and gristmill of the Philipses, a family of Anglo-Dutch merchants who owned the 50,000 acre- estate, become the sets and the backdrop for the really, really ghoulish hauntings by colonial spirits.

Haunted house professional Lance Hallowell is back this year to lead a crew of award-winning makeup and costume designers and a 45-member-strong cast of experienced actors to create an immersive, interactive, pleasantly terrifying experience, with state-of-the-spooky-art special effects.

Custom built set pieces and period-correct costumes help orient the experience in Philipsburg Manor’s traditional time period of the mid-1700s.

What is best about Horseman’s Hollow is the sheer number (and talent) of the live spirits – they are very considerate, too – they seem to know just how much to terrify you (though really squeamish and young children should not come). I have found that if the ghouls sense you are easily frightened (like me), they tend to take down a notch their scare factor (I basically announce that I am easily frightened as I enter one of the venues).

But the professional actors and state-of-the-art special effects, contributes to a high fear factor (it’s recommended for ages 10 and up and is not for the squeamish and you need to take heed of the warning: This event is NOT suitable for adults who are claustrophobic, have heart or respiratory conditions, are prone to seizures, or have other chronic health conditions.)

As we start our experience, walking up a dirt path that rings the pond, a faceless colonial escorts us for a time, then goes into the trees to surprise a group of teenagers who are following behind. With each step through the woods, you leave the modern world behind and suspend disbelief.

Timed tickets mean that it isn’t overcrowded (safety in numbers?) – but as we walk through (guided by helpful spirits with lanterns who lead us to the next haunted house), we hear the screams of a pack of teenage girls in the distant dark. It adds to the atmosphere.

The Headless Horseman comes out of the shadows at Horseman’s Hollow, at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, NY © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Headless Horseman comes out of the shadows at Horseman’s Hollow, at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, NY © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Look carefully in the deepest, darkest shadow, and there is the Headless Horseman himself, astride his steed, standing quietly as if taking in the scene or simply delighting in the terror of recognition as the clueless passerby realizes who is lurking in the dark.

Horseman’s Hollow dates are Oct. 7-9, 14-16, 21-23, 27-31. Online tickets are $20 ($25 on Saturdays).  Fast Track, for a $15 per ticket upgrade, lets visitors skip the line in their timeslot. Historic Hudson Valley members receive a$5 per ticket discount.

Philipsburg Manor is at 381 North Broadway (Route 9) in Sleepy Hollow. (There is a parking field.)

Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze

The Headless Horseman, in lighted jack o’lanterns, at Blaze © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
The Headless Horseman, in lighted jack o’lanterns, at Blaze © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com


The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze, which drew more than 130,000 visitors last year, features more than 7,000 illuminated, individually hand-carved jack o’ lanterns. Elaborate single-pumpkin carvings and huge multi-jack o’lantern constructions are professionally lit throughout the landscape of Van Cortlandt Manor in various themed areas.

Favorite installations such as Jurassic Park and the giant spider web are joined this year by new creations including a plus-sized Pumpkin Planetarium, a Pumpkin Zee Bridge, and a brand-new herd of pint-sized dinosaurs all made of jack o’lanterns.

Creative Director Michael Natiello leads a small team of Historic Hudson Valley staff and local artists who carve. In addition, more than 2,000 volunteers help scoop and light the pumpkins. You can watch Blaze artists carving on site during the event.

Vernon Ford demonstrates pumpkin carving at Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Vernon Ford demonstrates pumpkin carving at Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Café Blazé, by Geordane’s of Irvington, offers culinary treats including soup, veggie chili, muffins, pumpkin cookies, and cider. The Great Jack O’ Lantern Blaze Shop has a full bounty of Blaze-specific merchandise including hats, notepads, games, T-shirts, magnets, caps, mugs, and jewelry.

New music this year created by professional musician, radio personality, and Halloween fanatic Richard Christy will augment the visitor experience. The new tracks as well as music from Christy’s Blaze: The Soundtrack Volume I & II play throughout the event. (Soundtrack Volume II is available as a CD at the event and both volumes are available as digital downloads and streams from iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play.)

Blaze dates are Sept. 30, Oct. 1-2, 7-10, 13-16, 19-31, Nov. 3-6, 10-13. Online tickets are $20 for adults ($25 on Saturdays), $16 for children 3-17 ($20 on Saturdays), and free for children under 3 and Historic Hudson Valley members.

Van Cortlandt Manor is at 525South Riverside Avenue, just off Route 9 in Croton-on-Hudson (A parking field is on site).

Irving’s ‘Legend’

Master storyteller Jonathan Kruk offers a dramatic re-telling of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” accompanied by live organ music in the candlelit interior of Sleepy Hollow’s circa-1685 Old Dutch Church © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Master storyteller Jonathan Kruk offers a dramatic re-telling of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” accompanied by live organ music in the candlelit interior of Sleepy Hollow’s circa-1685 Old Dutch Church © 2016 Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Master storyteller Jonathan Krukoffers a dramatic re-telling of Washington Irving’s classic tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, featuring the Headless Horseman, Ichabod Crane, Brom Bones, and Katrina Van Tassel. Flavored with live spooky organ music by Jim Keyes, Kruk’s storytelling takes place in the historic, candlelit setting of the Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow. The circa-1685 stone church is across the street from Philipsburg Manor, where visitors will park. Performances last about 45 minutes.

Irving’s ‘Legend’ dates are Oct. 7-9, 14-16, 21-23, 27-31. Seating is very limited and there are three performances each evening. Online tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for children under 18. Historic Hudson Valley members receive a $5 per ticket discount.

Legend Behind the ‘Legend’

Sunnyside, the home of Washington Irving, celebrates its connection to Irving’s classic tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, at this family friendly daytime event. The Legend Behind the ‘Legend includes tours of Irving’s home – a colorful blend of architectural styles – which showcase numerous objects from HHV’s collection related to Irving’s famous story. Visitors can also enjoy a shadow puppet performance of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and experience one of Irving’s spooky tales on a walk through the woods. Sunnyside is on West Sunnyside Lane, off Route 9 in Tarrytown.

Legend Behind the ‘Legend’ dates are Oct. 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29-30. Online tickets are $16 for adults, $12 for seniors, $8 for children 3-17, and free for those under 3 and Historic Hudson Valley members.

All events are held rain or shine. Proceeds support Historic Hudson Valley, the Tarrytown-based private, non-profit educational organization that owns and operates the historic sitesthat host these events.
Because of the popularity of these events, it is essential to purchase tickets in advance.

Buy tickets online at www.hudsonvalley.org or by calling 914-366-6900 ($2 per ticket surcharge for phone orders and for tickets purchased onsite, if available).

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© 2016 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com 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 Open Tennis Opens With Festival Atmosphere and Many Improvements

Simona Halep of Romania, seeded 5 in the US Open tennis tournament, practices in the brand new Grandstand © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Simona Halep of Romania, seeded 5 in the US Open tennis tournament, practices in the brand new Grandstand © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, goingplacesfarandnear.com

The world stage for sports has moved from Rio to New York as the Big Apple lays down the red carpet for the US Open Tennis Championship at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow Park, which more than 50 years ago hosted another international spectacular, the World’s Fair.

The US Tennis Open has become like much of New York, a glitzy affair for the elite, but for the week before this annual Grand Event, the gates are flung open for everyone to enjoy.

This is something that locals know about, and eagerly await each year.

Head to head at the net: Marcelo Arevalo of Spain vs Giraldo Santiago of Colombia (seeded 18) in first round of the Qualifying Matches © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Head to head at the net: Marcelo Arevalo of Spain vs Giraldo Santiago of Colombia (seeded 18) in first round of the Qualifying Matches © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This is the Qualifying Matches, when more than 100 players from around the world fight for a coveted spot in the Open. If they make it through three rounds of the Qualifying tournament, they will get a spot; 16 out of 128 will advance. The matches are fabulous, and what is more, you can see the players really up close, you can wander around from match to match.

In fact, the quality of the competition rivals for your time and attention from the opportunity to watch Tennis Royalty warming up in the Louis Armstrong stadium and the new Grandstand, as well as the practice courts.

Here, too, you can see the greats from a perch you would never have during the actual tournament.

Getting into the swing: Children’s Day events at the US Open © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Getting into the swing: Children’s Day events at the US Open © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The four days of matches are free and the festival atmosphere is enhanced with special events including Children’s Day activities, musical presentations, and the excitement of seeing the world’s best players practicing. You never know who you will encounter.

The quality of play at the qualifying matches is superb, and Everyday Joes have front-row seats to the intense action. It’s particular fun to wander from match to match.

Tyler Townsend beat all odds – including seeded players – to win her way out of the Qualifying tournament to a coveted spot in the US Open © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Tyler Townsend beat all odds – including seeded players – to win her way out of the Qualifying tournament to a coveted spot in the US Open © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On the first day of play, I got to see two American women advance who wound up playing each other in the fourth round, and one player, Tyler Townsend, triumphed over Jennifer Brady (seeded 18 in the Qualifying tournament) to win her spot in the US Open tournament.

You also get to see the top players in the world practicing at such a close vantage point you would never get otherwise – you see the intense expressions on their faces, their muscles flex, their contortions as they leap, stretch, slide to reach a ball.

Tennis legend John McEnroe leaps onto the narrow railing in the seats to reach a ball, showing he still has it © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Tennis legend John McEnroe leaps onto the narrow railing in the seats to reach a ball, showing he still has it © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And you get to see tennis legends – like John McEnroe who took his turns practicing strokes and serves, and in showing Mac is Back, leapt onto the narrow railing in the seats to reach a ball – evoking flourishes of gold-medal gymnast Simone Biles on the beam.

I also got a first-hand look at the brand new Grandstand court – fantastic – where Simona Halep was practicing against Kiki Bertens.

Simona Halep and  Kiki Bertens  practice at the new Grandstand at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Simona Halep and Kiki Bertens practice at the new Grandstand at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The new Grandstand is at the center of a completely revamped South Plaza. The sunken court, surrounded by 8,125 seats, retains the intimate viewing experience of the old Grandstand but likely avoids the horrible shadows that plagued the original grandstand – has a more open-air feel to it. It also is its own tennis destination, with expanded retail and food concessions, including a new Food Village.

There are many other improvements, as well:

Most notably, the retractable roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium – probably the most prestigious tennis venue in the US – has been completed.

Kiki Bertens, of the Netherlands, at practice, is seeded 20 in the US Open © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Kiki Bertens, of the Netherlands, at practice, is seeded 20 in the US Open © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“More than 6,500 tons of steel now surround Arthur Ashe Stadium in a technological first – constructing a stand-alone support system for a retractable roof over an existing stadium,” E.J. Crawford reports. “The 2 million-pound retractable panels close in under seven minutes and will allow scheduling consistency for fans, players and US Open television partners. The retractable roof is the largest of any tennis stadium in the world, with a 62,500-square-foot opening.”

Also, the Grandstand in the southwest of the complex is connected to Court 17 in the southeast via a picturesque 500-foot long, 40-foot wide boulevard.

There are also 2,099 new seating in the southern area, to accommodate the viewers as well as those walking the grounds. And, like the seating design at the West Stadium Courts (Courts 4, 5 and 6), fans will be able to walk over a connected seating structure between Courts 8, 9 and 10, and Courts 13, 14, 15 and 16.

Other notable events and fan favorites at the 2016 US Open include:

Community Day on Thursday, Sept. 8

After its debut at last year’s US Open, the USTA is once again offering complimentary grounds admission on the tournament’s second Thursday, Sept. 8 (noon to 6 pm). Fans will be able to watch doubles play, including the men’s and women’s doubles semifinals, as well as semifinal action in the Champions Invitational, a showcase of former Grand Slam champions and finalists, and the world’s top boys and girls competing in the US Open Junior Championships. In addition, this will be the third year of the American Collegiate Invitational.

Final Farewell to Louis Armstrong Stadium

Fans flock to Milos Raonic after his practice in the Louis Armstrong Stadium; fans will get to say a final farewell to the stadium on Sept. 8 © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Fans flock to Milos Raonic after his practice in the Louis Armstrong Stadium; fans will get to say a final farewell to the stadium on Sept. 8 © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Also, on Thursday, Sept. 8, the USTA will give a final salute to Louis Armstrong Stadium by allowing fans access to the stadium for one last time. An exhibition and trick shot competition for fans are just two of the scheduled activities for that day. Fans also will be invited onto the court to play in Louis Armstrong Stadium before it is shuttered for the final time. Louis Armstrong Stadium will be replaced by a new state-of-the-art stadium for the 2018 US Open.

Bradley Theodore Art Installation

To commemorate the last year of Louis Armstrong Stadium and the old Grandstand structure, the US Open is partnering with acclaimed New York artist Bradley Theodore. Theodore will develop a series of four murals within the Great Hall in Louis Armstrong paying homage to iconic individuals associated with both stadiums, including Serena and Venus Williams, John McEnroe, Billie Jean King and Armstrong himself. After the US Open, one of the murals will be donated to the USTA Foundation to further support the mission of growing the game of tennis.

Chase Charge and Watch Program

Fans this year can pick up a mobile charging device from the Chase booth located next to the Food Village to fully charge their smartphones and stay connected to the tournament. When connected to the US Open mobile app, the charging unit also will deliver live video to the fan’s phone. The devices, which work through the on-site radio frequencies, will only work on the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

New Food Offerings

The US Open has also become quite a dining experience. New dining options include the new Grandstand Food Village (located at the Grandstand south of Courts 4, 5 and 6); Oyster Bar serving a variety of oysters, lobster rolls and shrimp cocktail for seafood lovers (located adjacent to Court 7); and fan favorite Chef Tony Mantuano’s Wine Bar Food returns with a new location and new menu (located adjacent to Court 11). Additionally, Grey Goose will debut a new bar in the Grandstand Food Village along with a new cocktail, Grey Goose Le Grand Fizz. The main Food Village will also feature a new Jacob’s Creek bar showcasing the winemaker’s Two Lands wines. And the Moet & Chandon Terrace returns to the patio area near the US Open Club as well.

Music Legend Phil Collins to Perform Opening Night, Aug. 29

Music Legend Phil Collins will perform during the Opening Night Ceremonies for the 2016 US Open on the evening of Monday, Aug. 29, in Arthur Ashe Stadium. The performance, Collins’ first major public appearance in six years, will be televised live by ESPN2 in the U.S. and by a host of international broadcasters. Collins will be joined for a special duet by Leslie Odom Jr., a Queens, N.Y., native who recently won a Tony Award for his performance as Aaron Burr in the hit play “Hamilton.” Odom Jr. is also slated to sing the national anthem that evening. The ceremony will feature expanded technology, incorporating more than 100 LED moving lights hung from trusses along the east and west catwalks, spanning more than 300 feet, designed to spotlight the new roof.

Nightly Light Show with Lasers

Returning for a second year, the USTA is presenting nightly light show during the evening sessions of the tournament. This year, the light show will be choreographed with the rest of the lighting system to showcase the new roof and enhance player introductions.

US Open “Selfie” Fancam

New this year, fans in Arthur Ashe stadium will be able to use their phones to remotely control cameras to zoom into their location,  and take and share the selfies on their social media accounts. Fans will go to usopenfancam.com, enter their seat location and then will have control of one of eight in-stadium cameras.

US Open App Enhancements

New for 2016, the US Open app debuts Guest Information Presented by American Express. Guest Info delivers comprehensive listed information that assists fans in navigating the US Open in real time. Guest Info is an intelligent engagement platform that leverages location services to put Guest Services directly in the hands of US Open attendees. The feature will provide all the closest, most relevant points of interest tailored to the fan’s specific location on the grounds.

Open Access

Open Access returns for 2016, providing the single fan registration platform that enables attendees to be entered to win tickets, hospitality upgrades and other prizes from US Open sponsors and vendors. Fans can register once either in the US Open app or on USOpen.org. They then receive a unique seven-digit QR code to scan at every activation. At the end of the day, fans will receive personalized photos and videos of their US Open experience.

Coco Vandeweghe of the USA is seeded 28 in the US Open © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Coco Vandeweghe of the USA is seeded 28 in the US Open © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

US Open Social Media Enhancements

The US Open is expanding its social media impact with a number of new enhancements this year, Campbell reports. “Among them, the first US Open-branded emoji keyboard in partnership with YourMoji, a series of custom Snapchat filters for US Open fans playing on the signature elements of the US Open, and a special photo and video experience for players at their check-in, where they can showcase their personality and pose with props including custom designed racquet art by former player Andres Ballas. Also, an on-site social booth will allow fans to take photos and create their own GIFs to be shared on social platforms. In addition, the US Open has expanded its social influencer program, leveraging partners such as creative duo Street Etiquette, Fashion Bomb Daily and the entertainment marketing collective Everyday People helmed by Roble Ali and Saada Ahmed. The program will culminate with an on-site activation, The Suite Spot, which will serve as a social media content hub to highlight key aspects of the US Open experience through the lens of participating influencers.”

ESPN to Produce Record Number of Hours for 2016 US Open

ESPN will again serve as the exclusive live domestic media partner in 2016. During this year’s US Open, ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to air nearly 130 hours of live match play with a record 1,300 hours of first-to-last ball coverage, available on WatchESPN. ESPN continues to expand its production and coverage of the US Open, featuring play from up to 12 courts each day and incorporating cutting-edge camera technologies.

Comprehensive 24/7 TV Schedule

Katerina Siniakova at the US Open © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Katerina Siniakova at the US Open © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

ESPN kicks off its US Open coverage on Sunday, Aug. 28, with a live “SportsCenter on the Road” from the US Open at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN2, followed by Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess at 2 p.m. on ABC. Daily coverage commences on Monday, Aug. 29 at 11 a.m. on WatchESPN, at 1 p.m. on ESPN and 6 p.m. on ESPN2 (all times Eastern). ESPN2 will deliver wall-to-wall coverage of Labor Day weekend from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day. Finals Weekend will culminate with the women’s singles final on Saturday, Sept. 10, and the men’s singles final on Sunday, Sept. 11. Both finals will air at 4 p.m. on ESPN. In addition, Tennis Channel will air daily preview and highlights shows as well as overnight encore programming – offering fans a 24/7 US Open experience

Live Streaming

Again this year, USOpen.org will offer live streaming in partnership with ESPN, with more than 1,300 hours of coverage across all broadcast courts available on WatchESPN and through the US Open app – providing a “digital grounds pass” for fans. In addition, WatchESPN also offers the US Open Chase Review Channel, multi-court/camera offering and Spanish language coverage. New this year, the press conference feed from interview room 1 will also be available on WatchESPN.

 

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© 2016 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com   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

11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island Finishes Off With Really Hot Jazz

Charleston lesson at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Charleston lesson at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin

Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

 

Talk about Hot Jazz! The heat and humidity could not dampen the celebratory spirit for the final weekend of the 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island, where the weather was hot but the jazz was hotter. People still turned out in their vintage 1920s outfits, re-creating the Gatsby-era.

Yodoyiohdo. Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Yodoyiohdo. Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra sets the mood with music Arenella has transcribed from original recordings of the era. Arenella re-creates the role of a Big Band leader, taking on the inflection and look, and telling anecdotes about the music and the musicians as if it were now, when this music was all the rage and radio was a new (and dangerous) cultural phenomenon. Within moments, you are transported back to the romance and joie de vive of that time, leaving behind for these precious hours the hubbub of modern times (except for the constancy of cameras, smart phones and selfies).

Gregory Moore and The Dreamland Follies at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Gregory Moore and The Dreamland Follies at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The entertainment throughout the day is topnotch: Gregory Moore and The Dreamland Follies, evoking the Ziegfield Follies, puts on stunning and sophisticated dance routines; Roddy Caravella & The Canarsie Wobblers  consistently wow with fanciful costumes and choreography;

Minsky Sisters © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Minsky Sisters © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Minsky Sisters, a 1920s-inspired sisters tap act in the tradition of classic vaudevillian family acts; Queen Esther, an award-winning vocalist with a four-octave range who is also a songwriter, actor, and recording artist performing regularly in NYC, who sets her own standard of Jazz Great while paying tribute to jazz royalty of yore with her jazz quintet The Hot Five; Peter Mintun, “world’s greatest piano man” and Molly Ryan, known for her silvery voice and lush, elegant vocal style; plus musical interludes on vintage 78 records from the 1920s played on a 1905 antique phonograph.

Roddy Caravella & The Canarsie Wobblers at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Roddy Caravella & The Canarsie Wobblers at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

There are special attractions, as well, starting with lessons in Charleston or the Peabody by Roddy Caravella and his wife; dance competition (in Charleston or Peabody); a “High Court of Pie” contest;

Enjoying the private Sheik of Araby Tent VIP Tent in true Gatsby-era style at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Enjoying the private Sheik of Araby Tent VIP Tent in true Gatsby-era style at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Bathing Beauties and Beaus Promenade; Kidland carnival games and prizes for junior gents and Flapperettes; 1920s Motorcar Exhibition (get up close and personal with flivvers, Tin Lizzies and “Buttercup,” Gatsby’s very own 1925 Rolls-Royce “Twenty”); Vintage Portraits  (immortalize yourself while perched upon a Paper Moon); and boutonnieres and mini floral arrangements bestowed upon guests from BloomThat, a flower start-up.

Queen Esther performing with her jazz quintet The Hot Five at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Queen Esther performing with her jazz quintet The Hot Five at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Scores of vintage vendors add to the atmosphere – if you didn’t have your own vintage outfit, you can rent or buy, and if you didn’t have your own picnic blanket, you could purchase from the General Store. Merchants include: Dora Marra, Toucan Hats, Prohibition Clothing, Noble Vintage Clothier , Wildfell Hall Vintage, David Owens Vintage, Howard’s Entertainment, Penumbra Foundation, Zelda Magazine and Art Deco Society of NY.

BloomThat bestowes boutonnieres and mini floral arrangements at the Jazz Age Lawn Party © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
BloomThat bestowes boutonnieres and mini floral arrangements at the Jazz Age Lawn Party © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The bi-annual daytime affair also features an array of Golden-Age inspired cocktails created by mixtress Julie Reiner (Clover Club, Leyenda, Flatiron Lounge) featuring the festival’s signature spirit, St-Germain, including: The St-Germain Cocktail: an invigorating aperitif of St-Germain, sparkling wine, and sparking mineral water with a lemon twist; Strike Up The Band: a refreshing Collins-style recipe blending summer strawberries with gin, St-Germain and fresh citrus; and the Flappers Delight: St-Germain elderflower meets Juniper and mint in this tall summer fizz, and exclusively in “ The Gatsby’s Garden” VIP section: Americano de Robert: St-Germain, Campari, Dry Vermouth, lime, soda & orange peel, served up.

Ferry is Magic Carpet to Bygone Era 

The enchantment begins as you board the ferry from South Street or from Brooklyn for the short ride to Governors Island. You think you have stepped back to the 1920s – crowds of giddy people are dressed in flapper dresses and linen suits, caps and suspenders cram the ferry. And dancing shoes. And you realize this isn’t just any ride in the park.

The Sokol Sisters –Evita, Stephanie, Katie and Ashley, from New York City get into the spirit of the Jazz Age Lawn Party © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The Sokol Sisters –Evita, Stephanie, Katie and Ashley, from New York City get into the spirit of the Jazz Age Lawn Party © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

We are back in the Jazz Age, and the setting is perfect, a vast lawn set off by an arbor of trees, surrounded by buildings and forts that date back to the Civil War and World War II when Governors Island was used as a base and military prison (I even happened on Civil War re-enactors), now repurposed for arts and cultural programs.

People come and set out sprawling picnics – some with elaborate fixings like candelabras and crystal wine glasses.

The atmosphere is infectious. Fellows seem more civilized. Gals seem more sassy. And the good feeling just percolates to the beat from Michael Arenella’s Dreamland Orchestra, as this fantastical community defying time forms.

Michael Arenella © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Michael Arenella © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The unquestioned star of the day long festival is Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra, one of the world’s great Jazz Age dance bands, specializing in the Hot-Jazz of the 1920s. “Conductor, composer, musician and singer Michael Arenella presents a personally transcribed songbook for your listening and dancing pleasure.” (Michael Arenalla also can be heard Wednesday nights at the Clover Club, Smith Street in Brooklyn and at the Red Room, the last Thursday of the month, 85 E 4th St, NYC, and at the Clover Club, see www.dreamlandorchestra.com).

Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra at 11th Annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

It isn’t hard to believe you have returned to the Jazz Age because of the authenticity and attention to detail. Arenella “transcribes by hand their entire repertoire from period recordings. Their delivery, as well as their instruments, attire, and equipment — are faithfully accurate. Arenella’s strong yet vulnerable baritone lacks pretense or sarcasm. He treasures each lyric, and has faith in the songs he sings. Even the most optimistic Tin Pan Alley tune has a disarming quality in his hands.”

Even the 1928 Graflex, used to take period photos, is an original.

Gregory Moore pays tribute to New York Times Styles photographer Bill Cunningham during Jazz Age Lawn Party © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Gregory Moore pays tribute to New York Times Styles photographer Bill Cunningham during Jazz Age Lawn Party © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Now in its 11th year, the Jazz Age Lawn Party has built a history of its own. It started in 2005 as a small gathering of about 50 friends and fans of Michael Arenella and his Dreamland Orchestra and their version of prohibition-era music and fun. Not too many years after, it was drawing thousands of fans who revel in the music and zeitgeist of the 1920s and 1930s and has become what is arguably the world’s largest outdoor musical celebration of the Jazz Age, but is undoubtedly one of the highlights in a crammed calendar of summer happenings in New York City.

For more information, visit: JazzAgeLawnParty.com.

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© 2016 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com   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