Thousands of New Yorkers waited hours in freezing temperatures to take their picture with Mayor Bill de Blasio during an open house at Gracie Mansion Sunday. Credit: Office of the Mayor
After waiting nearly two hours in a snake-like line several blocks long on a freezing Sunday afternoon, Marc Klein met the mayor in Gracie Mansion's first-floor library -- albeit briefly.
A handshake, the snap of a camera and Klein said he was whisked out of the mansion by Mayor Bill de Blasio's staff.
“I felt that they were rushing it. They weren't letting people savor the moment," said Klein, 34, a Kensington, Brooklyn, resident, who estimates he was with the mayor for "two seconds."
Klein was one of thousands of New Yorkers who waited to take their picture with de Blasio, braving freeing temperatures during a dank afternoon on the Upper East Side.
Free tickets to the "open house" were distributed last week. Staff passed out hot beverages to cold attendees as music played and everyone inched forward, occasionally passing warming tents before the line reached the house.
"We're trying to get everyone a chance," de Blasio said of the rapid pace in between greetings. "We set up the system to try to get the most people in the door and give them a chance to see the place."
Despite Klein's disappointment -- "He should have spent more time with me" -- he and other attendees said the short meeting was worth the wait.
Petal Hwang, 39, and her son Derek waited outside for a little over two hours to see de Blasio at Gracie, which the mayor repeatedly called "the people's mansion."
"It belongs to all the people. Did you know that? All the people of the city," de Blasio told Hwang's 11 year old. "So you have a one out of 8.4 million share of this place."
After the mayor and Derek briefly chatted about his Harlem middle school, Hwang said the meeting was worth the wait and the cold.
Added Klein, "It was very nice for him to open his home to the public. I don’t think any mayor's ever done that."