By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Although the summer weather seems to have taken a break this week with persistent clouds and patchy rain, the Union Square Partnership is gearing up for warmer temperatures with a schedule of outdoor activities to take place in the park throughout the season. Summer in the Square officially kicks off today, offering free activities to entertain both kids and adults on Thursdays until August 13.
Fitness programs will be available in the mornings and evenings, while programming for children will mostly take place in the middle of the day. Jazz performances will take place in the park for the lunchtime crowd and while all of the activities are family friendly, the music performances in the evenings will be geared more towards commuters heading home after work.
Union Square Partnership executive director Jennifer Falk said that all of the activities available are thanks to partnerships with businesses in the neighborhood, many of which have participated in Summer in the Square in previous years. Some new businesses, like Reebok, are participating for the first time since the store on Union Square West only opened within the last year, but this is also the first year that the Strand Bookstore, which has been in the neighborhood for more than 60 years, is getting involved. Falk said that the bookstore will be joining the activities for a story time that centers around a new theme every week.
“The purpose (of Summer in the Square) is to highlight the strengths of businesses throughout the Union Square area that are offered year-round,” Falk said. “It’s lovely coming out to the park in the summer but many of these are things you can take advantage of during any season.”
One of the new features for Summer in the Square for children’s programming includes an activity pavilion available where kids can take advantage of the books, crafts and games available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. This pavilion, which will actually be a tent on the south plaza across from Whole Foods, is not to be confused with the pavilion housing a restaurant of the same name on the north end of the park. At the latter pavilion, there will also be activities available on Tuesdays in separately scheduled programming.
Musical performances have always been a component of Summer in the Square, but this is also the first year that “Fuerza Bruta,” the interactive off-Broadway show from the nearby Daryl Roth Theater, has offered performances as part of the event. There are three different opportunities to catch a performance from this high-energy show, but there is only one special performance from the new Broadway show “Amazing Grace” on July 30 in which the cast will perform a selection of songs from the new musical. “Bayside! The Musical,” another off-Broadway offering that is ending its run in August, will be offering its own special performance on June 25.
The dance companies that participate fall somewhere in between entertainment and fitness, as Falk said that park-goers tend to like joining in, especially with the popular hip hop performance with PMT Dance Company.
Falk noted that there are also plans to show movies during the evening on the last two Thursdays of the season, but the specific films haven’t been announced yet.