I Love My Park Day at Four Freedoms opened with persistent rains, gusty winds sweeping off the East River… and the heartiest band of park lovers you’re likely to meet anywhere.
by David Stone
I Love My Park Day 2022, FDR Four Freedoms State Park
The temperature on my iPhone read 50 degrees, but it felt colder as I walked a muddy path into FDR Four Freedoms State Park. Tents shielding volunteers were set up, and Conservancy Executive Director Howard Axel bounced between them, knitting the assembly lines.
The Four Freedoms Park Conservancy is a not-for-profit group charged with operating the park, collaborating with New York State Parks, which does a bang-up job on maintenance. Grooming the artfully sculpted park is no small task.
“We always have a great turnout for I Love My Park Day,” Axel said, “but this is amazing.”
What was he talking about? The weather, certainly. But it was also the day’s mission: to finish assembling Adirondack chairs. These will serve as rest stops and conversation starters throughout the park.
Assembling the Chairs
In a tent packed full of volunteers, hard at work, pieces of wood met nuts and bolts as an assembly line brought disparate parts together, creating a charming whole. Another tent braced volunteers against increasing wind and splashing rain on the lawn above.
Inside, I had a chance to talk with Alessandro Villa, an Executive with Woolrich, which for the second year funded the I Love My Park event.
Established in 2021, The Woolrich Outdoor Foundation is dedicated to preserving and safeguarding outdoor spaces and communities for all of us to enjoy.
Partnering with 1% for the Planet, and in collaboration with other global non-profit organizations, the Woolrich Outdoor Foundation supports three core pillars – protecting our forests, maintaining our coastlines, and urban renewal projects which are rooted in facilitating impactful environmental changes.
For 200 years, nature has been a constant source of inspiration for Woolrich. Today, the brand wants to return the favor by actively engaging in the protection and preservation of the environment.
Adirondack Chairs in the Rain
In short order, the Adirondack Chairs set up in formation under the beech tree row at the front of the park. There was no more pleasant sight on a rainy, windy day saturated with irresistible enthusiasm.
In a ceremony abbreviated by the weather, Axel welcomed a few officials who braved the rain to come out and thank the volunteers. Among them were Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Erik Kulleseid, the Commissioner New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation.
Roosevelt Island Residents Association President Rossana Ceruzzi and Community Board 8 Representative squeezed in for a group photo. For a few minutes, the rain and wind dissipated. Or maybe they just seemed to as the joys of the moment took over.
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