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|Sean Garrity • 9/15/17|
The Short Version: Nearly 40 years ago, the Central Park Conservancy was founded with a mission to restore, manage, and enhance New York City’s most prized green space. Thanks to the organization’s efforts, the city’s 843-acre treasure hosts over 42 million visitors each year and holds the title as the most-frequented park in the United States. Through the Conservancy’s volunteer programs, self-guided walks, concerts, and world-class events, nature-loving couples are escaping into the open spaces of Central Park to connect with the outdoors and each other.
Photographer Ash Fox is used to capturing those special moments when a couple’s relationship goes to the next level. Not long ago, she was approached by Florian, a New York local who was ready to pop the big question to his then-girlfriend. Florian told Ash he had selected the Conservatory Garden in Central Park for his proposal because it reminded him of the open spaces of Paris — the city of love.
Like so many other beautiful sites in Central Park, the garden had been restored by the Central Park Conservancy, and, thanks to the organization’s hard work, it has become one of the park’s most popular destinations for weddings, proposals, and romantic strolls.
Hand in hand, Florian and his bride-to-be walked up to a spot near the fountain in the center of the garden. He took a breath, dropped to his knee, and held up a classic robin’s-egg blue ring box from Tiffany’s. Her answer was a resounding yes.
Local couples aren’t the only ones enthralled by Central Park’s romantic essence. For a duo visiting from out of town, Ash recommends a spot overlooking the park’s famous skating rink.
“The views are spectacular from this vantage point,” she said. “The south side of Central Park captures modern New York City, while the north side has a more classic old-world New York feel.”
Founded in 1980, the Central Park Conservancy has been working tirelessly to maintain the beauty and allure of New York’s natural treasure. The organization operates with a mission to restore, manage, and enhance Central Park for the enjoyment of all. As a result of the Conservancy’s efforts, the park continues to provide stunning backdrops for the city’s love stories.
For those looking to connect with like-minded nature lovers, the organization offers numerous volunteer opportunities to help emphasize the park’s environmental excellence. With an array of fun events and cultural activities, there’s no shortage of new date ideas to get away from the bustle of the city and relax with someone special in the outdoors.
The Central Park Conservancy works to ensure that everyone visiting the park enjoys quality activities, events, and attractions throughout the year. The organization is committed to consistently providing interactive programming that allows people of all ages to get outside.
Just about any day of the year, the Conservancy offers something fun, informative, and healthy for couples who are looking to escape the urban grind and spark outdoor connections. Nature lovers can choose from the hundreds of exhibits, tours, and year-round attractions available. Outdoor activities are too numerous to list, but include baseball, boating, running, swimming, basketball, and bicycling. At different times of the year, visitors enjoy birding, kite flying, sledding, and ice skating, among many other recreational pursuits.
Popular with romantics, horse and carriage rides provide a relaxing and stylish way to experience the park’s natural beauty. These rides are an intimate way for lovers to spend quality time together and can add an air of elegance to any date. The carriages can be found lined up along Central Park South between 5th and 6th Avenues and can be reserved for proposals, weddings, anniversaries, or just a fun trip around the park.
The Conservancy also organizes an annual film festival during which couples can enjoy movies and music in the park’s open spaces. The week-long event offers free film screenings each evening, and performances by DJs before the movies begin. It’s a budget-friendly way to experience culture and the outdoors with that special someone.
For civic-minded couples, the Conservancy provides free educational programs that focus on environmental science and park history. The programs take place at various locations throughout the property, primarily at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, Belvedere Castle, the Dairy, and the North Meadow Recreation Center. Participating in the programs is a great way for couples to learn together while strengthening their bonds.
Central Park is an ideal outdoor wedding venue that accommodates a ceremony with up to 100 guests or a small, intimate event. Weddings at the Conservatory Garden can be planned through the Conservancy, and other Central Park locations can be booked through the NYC Parks.
The park offers an array of romantic locations for wedding ceremonies and photo shoots. Many sites, such as the Conservatory Garden, Belvedere Castle, Shakespeare Garden, and Bethesda Fountain, have been featured in films and are very popular venues to exchange wedding vows.
UK native Kimberly and her fiancé traveled across the Atlantic just to tie the knot in Central Park. And they weren’t disappointed.
“We had our ceremony at the Conservatory Garden in the middle of September,” she said. “Flowers were in full bloom; the sun was shining with the temperature in the mid 70s. The setting was picturesque with a beautiful water feature in the middle of the garden, making for some outstanding photographs.”
Like so many others, Kimberly found the Conservatory’s beautifully maintained landscapes to be the perfect setting to cement her union.
Couples who enjoy the outdoors and believe in making the world a better place will find a host of ways to volunteer together in Central Park. The Conservancy’s success depends on dedicated volunteers who help fill a variety of critical roles. To that end, the organization has developed programs that embrace and welcome the support of volunteers of any age. More than 800 acres is a lot of ground to cover, and there are many ways to lend a hand year-round.
Couples who care to use their love of nature to give back can learn about volunteering in Central Park by attending an open-house session. These sessions are held approximately twice a month and offer prospective volunteers the opportunity to meet directly with staff members and veteran volunteers who can answer questions about the types of volunteer jobs available.
Many volunteer activities are geared toward maintaining and renovating the park’s green spaces and other facilities for its millions of visitors. Volunteers can help with planting and raking; serve as park greeters; paint fencing, railing, and benches; and join park clean-up teams, among other tasks.
Couples looking for a more philanthropic and innovative way to seal their love can adopt a bench with a donation of $10,000.
For almost four decades, the Central Park Conservancy has restored, managed, and enhanced Central Park by placing pride, dedication, and passion for public interest at the forefront of its mission. The Conservancy’s end goal is to shape the future of urban parks.
In addition to hosting over 42 million visitors each year, the Conservancy is committed to providing couples with quality open spaces where they can create cherished memories and teach future generations to treasure New York’s natural resource. As a result, couples, like Florian and his bride-to-be, have found the grounds of Central Park are the ideal backdrop to deepen their connections.
For more information, or if you’re interested in getting married in Central Park, visit centralparknyc.org/weddings or call (212) 360-2766 Monday through Friday.