In August comes one of New York City’s most cherished traditions – Summer Streets! For several years now, during the first three Saturdays of August New York City closes Park Ave from 72nd St. to Lafayette by Brooklyn Bridge, nearly 7 miles free of cars and exclusively used by walkers, runners, cyclists, and roller bladers from 7 am to 1 pm.
It’s always a lot of fun. This year Ben and I woke up early to take advantage of Summer Streets as much as possible. There are several different activities, art, cool off centers, free giveaways for food and products, and classes, such as yoga and Zumba.
We started down in Foley Square by Brooklyn Bridge to get our timed bracelet for the zip line. The zip line is so popular that all of the bracelets were given by well before 8 am. After we got our bracelets, we headed up north (me by bike and Ben by running) to REI’s rock wall. We scampered up. Next we got a free bike tune-up for me. Then we went back down to Foley Square. Ben participated in a sports agility course. We learned that he can’t throw balls to save his life, but he is very very quick. He got the fastest time in one of the speed and agility rounds.
Then we had fun watching the Museum of Food and Drinks (MOFAD) explode, or rather puff, various things, such as popcorn, pasta, and rice with a puffing gun. We even got to eat some. I found the texture of the popcorn puffed by the air gun to be different than when it’s popped by a popcorn machine. The texture is lighter and airier. We tasted some puffed pasta — also quite interesting. The same light airy texture, but tastes nothing like pasta.
Boom! is MOFAD’s first traveling exhibit. This air gun puffer is how cereal company’s first puffed grains for cereal. This technique hasn’t been used since the 60s, so when MOFAD wanted one, they had to search to find the few remaining people who remembered how this machine was made. The exhibit was really cool.
We did our ziplining, which was quite fun. We headed north and ran into one of our neighbors. Ben ran with him a bit as I cycled along side them. We parted ways at the free food area, where we got some cheese samples from Cabot and free ice tea from Sweet Leaf and Honest Tea. I love their ice teas and we’re looking forward to drinking them in the waning summer days. There were other free food, but the lines were insanely crazy and we wanted to the art installation, Voice Tunnel.
The Voice Tunnel was created inside the Park Ave Tunnel by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. You can record a short message and your message will affect the light intensity. You record your message at the center of the tunnel and you can hear the message coming out of a loudspeaker a few seconds later. The message then travels outward one speaker at a time. As you’re walking down the tunnel, you see the lights flashing and hear all the various messages coming from the loudspeakers. We both really enjoyed this art installation.
When we came out of Voice Tunnel, it was about 12:30. Summer Streets was just about over. We were bit tired and hungry. We went to Tacqueria in Jersey City to have some delicious tacos, mimosas, and horchata. I love the fish tacos there. It has a great fresh flavor with a lovely cabbage slaw and avocado salsa. The horchata, Mexican rice milk, is one of the best that I’ve ever had. It’s rich and creamy and there’s a generous sprinkle of cinnamon. If you’re in Jersey City, I recommend going there for tacos and horchatas.