If you missed any of the previous Sneak-Peak tours of the Freshkills Park, you have a chance to participate in one on April 13.  The former landfill and current Freshkills Park will be opened to cyclists as part of the Tour de Staten Island--a 25 mile run and a new extended 40 mile route that takes riders around the entire Island.  Both routes will include the optional 5 mile loop around the Park for the first time during the ride-at-your-own pace event.  If you are thinking that this sounds distasteful--riding a bike through the former landfill--you are sadly mistaken.  

The Freshkills Park, which is usually closed to the public, had its fourth annual Sneak Peak event in September 2013.  I attended with my son, daughter-in-law and two-year old grandson.  Buses shuttled over 3,500 people from Travis into the Park.   I instantly felt that I was in the country--the Staten Island I remember as a kid.   

I met people from all the boroughs and New Jersey!  In the main area, there was a miniature horse pulling children around for five minute rides.  My grandson giggled on his short horse ride and asked for another and then another.  He experienced a ride on a scooter for the first time.  There was a petting zoo of sorts, with goats, as well as a work-shop for children to build bird houses.  A huge rock wall for climbers was a hit.  Kayakers were able to take boats out into the creek—gratis!  

Arts and crafts for the children were everywhere as well as coloring books and games to win prizes all relating to nature and animals and birds.  Interaction with nature was rampant and important to teach these young minds.  Composting was demonstrated; free trees were given away.  Birds like I have never seen live in the environs of the Park—blue herons, hawks, egrets, gulls.  We trekked up the “mountain”, a high rolling hill where the children assembled their own kites and flew them.  What fun we all had watching the hundreds of kites so high in the sky!  For the older folks like me, there were lounge chairs where you could relax and eat an ice cream from the nearby vendor.  Amazingly enough, I glanced to the right of where the kites flew to catch site of the Manhattan skyline.  Was I really still in the City? 
With all the griping we all did during this winter about the snow, potholes, traffic issues on the Expressway, cabin fever, are you ready to experience something as wonderful as the Bike Tour?  Staten Island has a lot to offer and some beautiful scenery and most importantly--NATURE.    
If you are interested in the Tour de Staten Island on April 13, check in will begin between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. for the 40 mile ride at the west parking lot of the Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George and between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. for the 25 mile ride.    
Park tours are available from April to November.  If you are interested in taking a guided tour of Freshkill Park, contact the Parks Department.  It is something you will never forget.  
Will you take the Tour de Staten Island or the guided Parks Department Tour?  Let me know what your favorite part was.  Write me at joan.coogan@gmail.com or call me at 646-258-9696.
Posted by Joan Coogan on


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