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By Carly Menkin

Laying out in Sheep’s Meadow, amongst the bronzed and not so bronzed bodies of my fellow New Yorkers, is my second favorite summer pastime. My first? Well, my first would be illegally purchasing beer from the shady gentleman who schleps a blue cooler around the grassy paradise us ‘big apple kids’ call Central Park. Investment bankers, waitresses and teachers alike all gather at this Garden of Eden on their busy summer’s day off, not just to feel the ice cold trickle of Corona down the back of their throats, but in order to find solace from the pace of life that consumes the streets of Manhattan.

I am a big believer of the balance and sanity one gains by simply taking a stroll through greenery. It can take you miles from the concrete jungle and give you new life. That is what Central Park does. It provides sustainability. It absorbs carbon while breathing new life into its inhabitants, through free park activities and by producing enough oxygen for over 65,000 New Yorkers; both unbelievable feats. Free SummerStage concerts are helmed by artists like Sara Bareilles, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Alabama Shakes, Childish Gambino, and Young the Giant, creating a vibe that brings the park to life at night. While days are filled with free yoga classes, bike rides, and Broadway softball league games - that pit shows like Mary Poppins against Phantom of the Opera. You might even take in a piece of classic theater at Shakespeare in the Park, as the outdoor Delacorte Theatre puts on productions of ‘As You Like It’ and Sondheim’s ‘Into the Woods,’ boasting a cast of stars like Amy Adams, Oliver Platt and Donna Murphy. And oh dear, I almost forgot to mention the free movie screenings, whew.

Whether you’re taking the kids to have fun at the Donna Summer Playground (the funkiest playground around) or going to visit Strawberry Fields to remember John Lennon, Central Park is an incredible resource of culture, history and nature that continues to help the people who love it, thrive. It’s not just a place where it seems as if buildings grow out of trees; it’s a lush haven created to sustain the New York lifestyle - environmentally and metaphysically. That’s precisely why it is, in fact, Manhattan’s lungs.

Carly Menkin a native of South Africa, now resides in New York where she is pursuing a career in the performing arts. She has been seen on stage with legends like Stevie Nicks, Chicago & Carol Channing

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