Good morning on this clear-skied Wednesday.
Here’s a riddle that some in the city are trying to solve: How do you stage a winter festival when winter is unseasonably warm?
Short answer: technology.
During the last few years, Winter Jam in Central Park has become a climatological crapshoot.
The event, which typically offers sledding, snowshoeing and ski lessons to around 15,000 New Yorkers, was called off in 2012 because there was not enough snow, and it was canceled again four years later — because of a blizzard. Last year, the festival, billed as New York City’s “ultimate snow day,” went on with no snow at all.
“We’ve learned to work with what we have,” said Anthony Sama, the director for special events for the city’s Parks Department. “That means moving forward with or without help from Mother Nature.”
While the event used to depend on actual snow, the Parks Department now relies on a platoon of “snow guns” brought in from an upstate ski resort to build artificial snow hills.
Even then, it’s not easy.
To create a hill that’s large enough to survive warm weather and rain, the snow guns must spray microscopic droplets of water into air that is 28 degrees, or below, for five days.
Winter Jam is this Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., by the Naumburg Bandshell. To see how the snowscape was holding up, we stopped by the park this week. On an empty roadway, a group of 12-foot piles of snow sat glistening in the sun, protected by police-style barricades. It was the only snow around, and it wasn’t very fluffy.
“It has a hard icy surface from the rain, but that’s covering the powder underneath,” Mr. Sama said. On Friday, he added, a snow groomer will break up what’s left and shape it into hills of white. Ideally.
If the snow doesn’t last until the weekend, the Parks Department has a backup plan — winter-themed activities that don’t require snow: “arctic golf,” a version of miniature golf where ice sculptures replace the windmills, and “arctic bowling,” regular bowling but outdoors.
With sunny skies and a predicted high near 50, the Parks Department is also breaking out other warm-weather activities — dodge ball and shuffleboard — just in case.
Here’s what else is happening:
Rock your shades, it’s a brilliant day.
But don’t get too comfortable. It’s cooler than yesterday — the high is 39 — and you’ll want to take a warm coat.
Leave the umbrella at home.
In the News
• Grandma the clown, a revered star of the Big Apple Circus, resigned after he was accused of pressuring a 16-year-old aerialist into posing for pornographic photos. [New York Times]
• An appeals court freed a man who had been found guilty on marijuana charges after a series of mishaps and court mishandlings caused him to have to wait seven years for his trial to begin. [New York Times]
• Mayor Bill de Blasio set a target of opening up 20 of his 90 homeless shelters that were laid out in his “vision” plan before the end of 2017. Only 10 have opened. [New York Times]
• Opening statements were made in the federal corruption trial of Joseph Percoco, a former friend and adviser to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. [New York Times]
• New York City has sued Big Pharma drug companies over the opioid crisis, joining a national campaign to hold those companies responsible for costs related to the epidemic. [New York Times]
• Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey signed an executive order aimed at loosening the state’s restrictive medical marijuana policies. [New York Times]
• The Brooklyn district attorney, Eric Gonzalez, has formed a committee of more than 50 criminal justice experts in hopes of sustaining his predecessor’s legacy of reform. [New York Times]
• In “About New York,” the columnist Jim Dwyer contemplates how the feud between the governor and the mayor is holding New York City back. [New York Times]
• Wyatt Tee Walker, a Harlem leader and chief of staff to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., died at 88. [New York Times]
• The city has chosen four artists who will work with different agencies to develop projects and use public art projects to address social issues affecting the city. [New York Times]
• After her work was absent from New York stages for 17 years, the Japanese choreographer Kei Takei returned to speak about Juilliard, technique and finding dance in nature. [New York Times]
• An inmate at Rikers Island allegedly called for medical assistance for nearly an hour before the staff responded, five days before his death. [New York Daily News]
•The soldier who gave his life rescuing others in the deadly Bronx fire last month will have a street named after him. [PIX 11]
• Today’s Metropolitan Diary: “Thank You for Your Service”
• For a global look at what’s happening, see Your Morning Briefing.
Coming Up Today
• Break a sweat, and relax, at a meditative yoga class, at the Poe Park Visitor Center in the Bronx. 9:30 a.m. [Free]
• Bring your existential questions to the Ask a Philosopher booth at Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan. Noon to 4 p.m. [Free]
• The author Vanessa K. Valdes discusses her book “Diasporic Blackness: The Life and Times of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg” at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. 6:30 p.m. [Free]
• Learn how to make fish soup with lemongrass and tomatoes at a Lao cuisine cooking class at the Alley Pond Environmental Center in Little Neck, Queens. 7 p.m. [$24]
• The graphic artists R. Sikoryak and Sasha Matthews discuss graphic literature at Book Culture on the Upper West Side. 7 p.m. [Free]
• Alternate-side parking remains in effect until Feb. 12.
• For more events, see The New York Times’s Arts & Entertainment guide.
Among the 27 productions offering discounted tickets are a few New York Times Critic’s Picks.
• “Avenue Q,” a musical puppet show for adults, won the Tony for Best Musical in 2004, besting “Wicked” in a huge upset. Even through its multiple iterations, from Off Broadway to Broadway and back, it has charmed our critic Ben Brantley, who wrote that “pretty much anyone who remembers arriving in New York, fresh from school, without a trust fund or a sugar daddy (or momma), will find grounds for identifying with those rudderless figures onstage.”
• “Bright Colors and Bold Patterns” reopened at the end of last year at the SoHo Playhouse. “Plays do not get much gayer than ‘Bright Colors,’” our critic wrote. “Set poolside, this 80-minute evening is essentially an audience with Gerry, who suffers from a serious case of ADHD, throws back cocktails as if they were cleansing juices, possesses a voluminous knowledge of pop culture (who is Shannon Elizabeth, anyway?), wields an acerbic wit that could flay you at 50 paces and has no off button.”
• “Drunk Shakespeare.” The conceit here is simple: A truncated version of a Shakespeare classic is performed while one cast member takes shots. Our critic wrote that what sets “Drunk Shakespeare” apart from other productions where actors are impaired “is that alcohol isn’t the main character. It’s more like an enabler, allowing the actors (sober and drunk) to take all sorts of liberties with Shakespeare, but skillfully.”
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