Photo: Jane Kratochvil for Bryant Park Corporation

 

A giant heart, recently mowed into the lawn at New York City’s Bryant Park by Baker & Sons Landscaping and Moe’s Lawn Care, both of Highland, NY, has garnered lots of attention. “Thank you healthcare workers, first responders, and essential workers. Thank you to everyone staying home, social distancing, and checking in on their neighbors,” was Tweeted April 21 by Bryant Park officials with the lawn photo.  “It’s a message of love to all New Yorkers, especially essential workers, who are weathering the pandemic crisis in a heroic way,” Bryant Park Corporation Executive Director Dan Biederman said in a statement.

New York City has been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 134,000 New Yorkers have tested positive for the new coronavirus, with 9,562 confirmed deaths as of April 21, according to the NYC Health Department.

“The Park asked if there was something we could create and we said, ‘Sure, we’ll give it a try,’” Jordan Pascariello, owner of Moe’s told Turf. “We felt it was important with COVID-19 and all the essential workers, especially healthcare workers who are really out there doing what they need to do, to spread a little happiness.” Pascariello, who is hired by Baker & Sons, did the actual mowing of the heart with Tim Baker, owner of Baker & Sons. Tim’s 14-year-old son, TJ, also helped, particularly with measuring out the top radius of the heart and running string lines to create the design.

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The 2019 mowing design. Photo provided by Baker & Sons Landscaping.

“It was crazy to get all that recognition from something so simple,” said Baker. “We do the grading and install the sod each Spring. We were scheduled to to give it the first mow and we usually do something kind of cool. I liked last year’s even better,” he laughed. (Pictured left.)

Bryant Park is a beloved, year-round park famous for its lush seasonal gardens, free activities, and al fresco dining. Located adjacent to the New York Public Library and surrounded by skyscrapers, the Park is visited by more than 12 million people each year. The lawn is currently expected to reopen as it does every year in early May. (This year, new social distancing measures will be in effect.) Each fall, the 1.1 acre lawn is transformed into an ice skating rink for the Winter, complete with Christmas tree, and then back to grass in the Spring by Baker & Sons.

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Bryant Park being regraded for Spring sod installation. Photo provided by Baker & Sons Landscaping.

“We go down each fall, rip up the grass, and move it out. Then we have to grade the sand for the rink,” said Pascariello, who helps in the process. “But before the rink can go in, we have to put the ballasts in place to hold the Christmas tree up.” He said in the two previous years, the tree has been donated from the properties of friends and neighbors of the Bakers. One tree was 85 feet tall and proved quite a challenge. “We cut the tree down ourselves, bring it to the City, install it with a crane, and decorate it,” said Pascariello.

“If they only knew what it took to make that tree happen .. biggest challenge of my career. From logistics to deadlines … it was no easy task… I can say I couldn’t have done it without my team.. next season will be easy …” commented Baker on his Facebook page in 2018. He told Turf, “To me the tree is a big deal.”

Pascariello agrees, and was grateful to Baker for bringing him on to the crew for Bryant Park. “It’s fun. It’s really great. It’s an honor. Thank you to everybody that’s involved.”

To contact Baker & Sons Landscaping, call 845-691-4912. To reach Moe’s Lawn Care, call 845-514-0439.