It was a beautiful evening on June 27th in New York City although the forecast was for a heat wave for the forthcoming days. This evening a balmy breeze and gentle sun with blue skies smiled down upon the 30 or so OHNY staff and volunteers, including many members of the Volunteer Council, who congregated on the third floor of the Central Park Arsenal. The occasion was the annual 5-Year Volunteer recognition ceremony which honors those volunteers who have volunteered at the OHNY Annual Weekend for five years or more.

The ceremony opened with some brief remarks from OHNY Board member David Gruber who welcomed everyone to the event. This was followed by a short introduction by Gary Rozman who is Director of Operations at the Arsenal – a job title which he said was somewhat ironic in view of his pacifist tendencies!

We then received a most interesting presentation by Jonathan Kuhn, the curator of the exhibition Parkcentric: Photos from the Museum of the City of New York, 1890-1940 which is presently displayed in the third floor gallery. This exhibition consists of photographs selected from the 300,000 negatives of the collection of the Museum of the City of New York. The selection for this exhibition centered on those photographs which had a parks connection. They are collected into groupings which have a theme such as ‘people’, ‘animals’, ‘activities’, etc. The Museum of the City of NY collection is available on-line and this exhibition had been carefully collected by sifting through these enormous archives. The photographs detail the development of the parks and show the various forms of dress, transport and activities over the years.

Curator Jonathan Kuhn

After the presentation and some questions and answers, the group moved upstairs to the fourth floor open roof deck where we enjoyed wine and snacks which had been excellently arranged by OHNY staff-members Jailee Rychen, Jessica Mak and Elis Shin.

The awards ceremony commenced with Ellen Ryan the Interim Executive Director of OHNY making some remarks, thanking the volunteers and inviting everyone to join the OHNY river cruise the following evening.

The awards ceremony was emceed by Catherine Stein assisted by Bob Moore and the following volunteers were given their attractive 5-year pins and roundly cheered and applauded by the assembled company:

Sang Yui Bae
Karen Bell
Joseph Broda
Bob Bodenstein
Karen Eckoff
Michael Hirsch
Ethan Lercher*
Sue Ling Mark
Jennifer Garrity
Eric Robinson
Lois Robinson
Harriette Tax
Fiona Torres*
Catherine Stein*

*Indicates Volunteer Council member.

Harriette Tax with Jailee Rychen

Fiona Torres one of our 5-year volunteers with Bob Moore and MC Catherine Stein

Eric Robinson

Ethan Lercher

Michael Hirsch

Karen Bell

Joseph Broda

Lois Robinson

After the ceremony, the group was entertained to an excellent tour of the building by Bob Gelber who is a licensed NYC tour guide as well as being a Big Apple Greeter and a much more than 5-year veteran of OHNY. The tour showed the group the historic map drawn up by Olmstead and Vaux and which won the competition to design the park in the 1800’s.

Volunteer Council member and NYC tour guide Bob Gelber

The group also climbed the metal, vertical ladder to the roof where the views of Central Park are stunning. There is a book up on the roof where you can sign your name and officially become part of New York City history. Everyone signed their name to fill one whole page.

Bob Gelber, Jailee Rychen and Ellen Ryan

OHNY group on the roof of the Arsenal

Anyone who has not visited the Central Park Arsenal has missed seeing a jewel in New York City. Although the roof is not generally open, the gallery is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday to Friday and is well worth a visit.

This is a very enjoyable annual ritual and makes volunteering with OHNY even more of a joy.

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