At 6:45 a.m. 12 eager New Yorkers waited in line for the 270-foot water slide at the Vita Coco Beach at Foley Square at the first day of this year’s Summer Streets.
Along with Slide the City, Vita Coco Beach on Saturday offered a number of hammocks and lawn chairs underneath palm trees to relax, free Vita Coco coconut water, popcorn, an opportunity to transport oneself to the beach via virtual technology and a cool-off misting station.
Summer Streets is open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and offers nearly 7 miles of open streets for people to run, bike, walk and partake in various activities — like the Slide the City waterslide — at multiple rest stops along the way. It kicked off Aug. 1 and will run for the next two Saturdays.
“Summer Streets provides space for healthy recreation and encourages New Yorkers to use more sustainable forms of transportation,” the Department of Transportation said.
Modeled after other street events from around the world including Ciclovía in Bogotá, Colombia and the Paris Plage in France, Summer Streets has also inspired other events such as CicloRecreoVía in Chile and London’s Regent Street Summer Streets.
The Foley Square stop also offered a 165-foot-long, 30-foot-high zip line on Leonard Street between Lafayette Street and Centre Street. The zip line is first come first serve, however individuals must go early to register for a time slot as well as sign a safety and photo waiver to participate. Participants need to weigh between 50 and 250 lbs.
People of all ages participated in the zip line, some took videos with their phones, some had on GoPros, one woman attempted to bring on a selfie stick and was denied and most, if not all, let out a scream on the way down.
“I am shaking, but I did it, but look I am shaking,” a girl said to her mom.
Volunteers begin setting up Summer Streets around 6 a.m. and disassemble at 1 p.m. The other rest stops—SoHo, Astor Place, Midtown and Uptown—include a variety of activities.
At the Midtown stop individuals can partake in Department of Transportation helmet fittings, free bike rental, free bike repair and lessons on how to ride a bike. Beyond biking, Midtown offers a family-friendly arts and crafts station in addition to dance, theater and musical performances throughout the day.
Hit up Astor Place to participate in walking tours with cultureNow and bring your dog along to the American Kennel Club Dog Park. SoHo also offers free bike repair and rental in addition to fitness classes by Crunch Gym.
And once again, Foley Square has both the 270-foot water slide and the zip line.
While some were lining up at 6:45 a.m. to participate in Summer Streets, others simply picked up a free coconut water or hopped in on a finess class while passing by. All activities are free of charge and are designed for people of all ages and ability levels, at Summer Streets there is something for everyone.
I have a love-hate relationship with heights and roller coasters and things of that nature.
As I stood in line for the Summer Streets zip line, I felt okay because when I looked up I thought, “Well, even if I fell off of that, I wouldn’t die.”
That and the fact that a number of children half my age had rode the zip line left me feeling pretty confident.
Of course, when it was my turn I felt slightly uneasy, I was much closer and it appeared much higher—although I still didn’t think I would die upon falling off.
A worker strapped me into the harness and I told him I liked his pants (something I tend to do when I am nervous—compliment someone’s pants—but, to be clear, they were cool pants).
As I stood at the bottom of the stairs, the man at the top gestured for me to come up. As I climbed the 30-foot staircase, the woman ahead of me turned around and walked down—the zip line had conquered her before she had begun. Not comforting.
When I got to the top, I looked down and almost immediately my nonchalant assessment of the potential fall not killing me evaporated.
The man hooked me on, gave me some directions and told me to go whenever I was ready.
I stared down at the human-sized target that was waiting for me at the bottom, and before I could think about it I lifted my feet.
It was terrifying for about a quarter of a second then it was thrilling and then it was over.
The guy waiting for me at the bottom looked understandably not amused by all the screaming he’d dealt with all dayas he unhooked me worldlessly from the zip line.
But none of that screaming was mine; I conquered the zip line in silence.