Good Prospects: Locals celebrate Brooklyn’s Backyard’s 150th birthday by planting hundreds of trees

Good Prospects: Locals celebrate Brooklyn’s Backyard’s 150th birthday by planting hundreds of trees
Colin Mixson / Community News Group

Happy birthday Prospect Park!

A dirt-smeared crew of local volunteers and park workers celebrated Prospect Park’s 150th Anniversary with a humble tree-planting party on Oct. 19 in a historically neglected corner of Brooklyn’s Backyard, marking the day when it opened in 1867 with a gift for future generations, according to the greenspace’s head caretaker.

“We’ve been celebrating all year, but to mark the actual day we did want to do something special,” said Sue Donoghue, president of the Prospect Park Alliance. “The work we’re doing here is for the next 150 years.”

The team over at the Prospect Park Alliance, which maintains the borough’s beloved meadows, has worked hard to ensure that all Brooklyn learns of the park’s impressive old age, and nearly every event, initiative, and art installation organized by the group this year has been dedicated to the park’s 150th anniversary. But the park’s biggest fans — a few dozen regular volunteers — celebrated Prospect’s big day by planting more than 300 native trees, shrubs, and other perennial green things in the Vale of Cashmere.

The volunteers, who were paid in cake and coffee, toiled over a roughly two-acre corner of land located near East Drive, installing sprigs and saplings of plant species that included tulip trees, oaks, sugar maples, dogwood, and witch hazel, among others.

Those volunteers will ultimately plant more than 20,000 green things throughout the vale, but on Thursday they honored the foresight of the park’s founders, ensuring their contribution to Brooklyn is maintained, according to one park lover.

“We look back at what they did in a 1867 and we think about their farsightedness in setting aside this incredible piece of land,” said Brian Sullivan, a Park Slope resident and park volunteer. “But we forget that was 150 years ago and that investment needs to be replenished by the succeeding generations.”

Their work follows the end of a two-year effort in which the Prospect Park Alliance contracted a team of weed-eating goats to clear out a few thousand square feet of poison ivy and other unwanted weeds.

On Thursday night, the Empire State Building was lit green in honor of the park.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.