Many people seem to enjoy the excitement in going into places where they’re generally or usually not allowed to go. They may be abandoned sites, like Discovery Island and River County at Walt Disney World. Maybe it’s the old City Hall station of the NYC subway system. Perhaps it’s “forbidden” countries like Cuba (we went to Cuba for my last birthday that “ended with a zero” simply “because I could.” Granted, at the time we could go there legally and relatively easily, but it was right after 50+ years of not being able to).
So when I discovered that Gramercy Park in NYC is locked up tight and closed to the public almost all the time, but is open for just one hour, just one night a year, it got me very interested.
Why do they open it once a year?
For people to sing Christmas carols. 🙂
Gramercy Park is the only private park in Manhattan and one of only two private parks in all of NYC (the other one is in Queens). It’s a block of grass, trees and bushes, with benches and a statue, between 21st and 22nd street in the Gramercy Park Historic District, and is only accessible to those who have a key.
The problem? There are less than 400 keys in existence, each one legally connected to the original lots surrounding the park. So unless you’re a resident of one of the buildings on the perimeter of the park, a guest of the Gramercy Park Hotel, the Players Club or the National Arts Club, or you somehow “got a connection” (that’s said in my native New Yorker accent, y’all) you’re not allowed in.
Well, except for one hour on Christmas Eve.
Beginning in the mid-19th century, a tradition began wherein the park is open for one hour on Christmas Eve, for the public to be able to sing Christmas carols. Nowadays the event is run by the Trustees of Gramercy Park, with the nearby Parish of Calvary-St. George’s leading the music.
Here’s some video from the event from 2016:
The caroling was canceled in 2021 and 2021 due to the Covid pandemic. With any lucky, it will happen this year. If it does, the event will be from 6pm to 7pm this year, if you happen to be in the area. I would definitely go if I could.
Just because I could. 😉
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