Updated 05/15/2010 06:42 PM
New Yorkers Lend A Hand At City Parks
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New Yorkers in all five boroughs rolled up their sleeves Saturday as part of "It's My Park Day."
Thousands of volunteers planted, raked, painted benches and cleaned up debris in more than 150 different parks and public spaces throughout the city.
The day also featured free events like tennis lessons, face painting, exercise programs and nature walks.
Volunteers said pitching in is a great way to both give back to their beloved parks.
"I spend every Saturday playing soccer in the park anyway. We pretty much beat up the field quite a bit, and I thought that this is one day a year when I can actually give back to the park because I use it so much," said volunteer Neel Adhya. "This is a great resource to have in the community."
"I heard about how Central Park gets much attention and much clean-up compared to Prospect Park, and I felt like it was a complete travesty," said volunteer Linwood Valdez. "I had to come out here and do something about it."
"Even if we do hard physical work here in the park during the day, it's still a day in the park," said volunteer Greg Klosek.
On Saturday morning in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, the Brazilian martial arts group Capoeira Brooklyn helped the volunteers warm up.
Jonathan Reyes, 15, who would normally spent Saturday afternoon at the gym, spent the day pulling up Prospect Park's weeds.
"It's a place where people have fun, it's a place where a lot of people go and have family vacations and whatnot. So if we keep it clean, we keep our community clean," said Reyes.
As the city and state Parks Departments are facing large budget cuts this year, parks officials said volunteers help underfunded maintenance efforts.
"Especially as we get ready for the summer and barbecues and picnics, we usually get seasonal staff, and that may be cut this year," said Eugene Patron of the Prospect Park Alliance. "Having volunteers out here helping makes so much of a difference."
"Parks are successful when people are connected to their park, and that's what today's all about," said City Parks Foundation Executive Director David Rivel.
The event takes place every spring and fall. To learn about year-round volunteer opportunities, visit nycgovparks.org.