An upcoming Nickelodeon festival that is going to pack Prospect Park with screaming children will be the latest in a long line of big-ticket events to trash Brooklyn’s backyard, claim park preservationists who refuse to give the kids’ network a pass.
The cable channel’s Worldwide Day of Play event, which will descend on the Nethermead field on Saturday, may seem like a perfect fit for parenting mecca Park Slope, but some grass-huggers claim that the festival’s 35,000 excited adolescents will be a turf-destroying nightmare on par with the Great GoogaMooga and Tropfest, big-time extravaganzas that they say have taxed the Nethermead enough already.
“It is clearly evident that the Nethermead is being over utilized,” said Prospect Lefferts Gardens resident Seth Kaplan, pointing out that some parts of the park were fenced off for nearly the entire summer because of damages caused by GoogaMooga, which took over the beloved field for two days in May.
“There are still large brown patches from where grass has died,” he said.
The Day of Play is free and will feature an array of kid-friendly activities including, sports, dance, double Dutch, and performances by pop band Big Time Rush and teenybopper star Ariana Grande, who also appeared at the MTV Video Music Awards at the Barclays Center last month, but park stalwarts say the blow-out is a symbol of corporate excess that has no place in Frederick Law Olmsted’s public playground.
“It certainly dismays me as Prospect Park is a public park,” said Noel Hefele of Prospect Lefferts Gardens, who visits the green space nearly every day.
“It is upsetting to see the privatization of our public parks,” he added.
As of Tuesday, much of the Nethermead was fenced off and park officials were unswayed by the outcry, saying that Nickelodeon is providing a service to the community.
“The park has always been a place for free public events and this is another free event that is specifically focused on children and their families,” said Eric Landau, spokesman for the Prospect Park Alliance, which manages the park.
Park watchdogs who fear that the floodgates are opening for even more massive events disagree, saying that any party with barricades and ticket takers is not for them.
“An event which closes off a large section of the park with chain-link fences for a week is not a free and public event under any definition,” Kaplan said.
The Nickelodeon event marks the third time that the Nethermead has been completely closed off for multiple days leading up to a restricted event,following two years of GoogaMooga. Tropfest, which park advocates also feared would leave the meadow in ruins, was not fenced off when it took over the field in June.
Big events like these generate funds to help pay for park maintenance and free programming, according to officials. The Alliance made $75,000 on a rental fee from GoogaMooga and will receive a yet-to-be finalized fee from the Nickelodeon event, officials said.
If the kid-friendly festival does mess up the park, Nickelodeon is required by contract to pony up whatever money it costs to fix it, just as GoogaMooga organizers paid to repair the damages that it caused, Landau said.