UMBO resident Doreen Gallo has been involved in community advocacy for multiple years, currently as an organizer with the Cadman Park Conservancy.
However, Gallo has been amazed to see the increased community interest in supporting and enhancing public spaces since the pandemic began.
This renewed fervor was on display this past Sunday when the Cadman Park Conservancy held a large tulip bowl planting event. The well-attended activity was part of an ongoing initiative to beautify and enhance the park.
“We do a lot of things relating to the park, housekeeping, taking care of the Brooklyn War Memorial, advocating for capital project funding,” Gallo said.
Previously, the Cadman Park Conservancy successfully secured $1.5 million from Borough President Eric Adams to make the War Memorial ADA accessible by adding an elevator. The tulip planting event was made possible by a generous and unexpected donation of nearly 5,000 tulips and daffodils.
“We are calling the event Super Bowl Sunday,” Gallo joked. “We are going to be planting the flowers in front of the park’s flagpoles, around the side of the circle garden, and near the War Memorial.”
The Conservancy is also organizing an ongoing series of gardening circle groups, allowing community members to plant remaining tulip bowls with the help of a Parks Department gardener. Reservations for these smaller events can be made by contacting the conservancy,
“We like catering to both large and small groups,” Gallo said. “We’ve already had gardening circles of families and local residents. We’ve also had teenagers come with whole groups of friends to plant flowers together.”
At first, Gallo was concerned that the conservancy would not be able to plant all of the new flowers. So far, the community interest in gardening circles and the Super Bowl Sunday event have made her far less concerned about having leftovers.
“I was worried we had thousands of bowls and I didn’t know if we would be able to plant them all,” Gallo said. “But the response was amazing, in part because people became very attached to public spaces after the pandemic. We get a lot of people who ask about volunteering now, way more than we did before.
“At first we thought we might not get enough volunteers, but now we worry that we don’t have enough shovels for all the volunteers,” she added.
In addition to the pandemic, Gallo believes that Cadman Plaza Park has been an especially important constant in Downtown Brooklyn as the area has grown dramatically over the past decade.
“People feel a real sense of connection to a public park,” Gallo explained. “What’s especially interesting about Cadman Plaza Park is that it’s at the intersection of a lot of different neighborhoods. A lot of different people pass through it regularly.”
Sunday’s event drew a large crowd, many of whom got on their hands and knees, sifting through cold dirt to plant the bulbs. However, once springtime comes the fruits of their labor will be apparent.
“It’s going to be epic in the spring when this all blooms,” Gallo said. “Really, I think it is going to blow people away.”
The Cadman Park Conservancy has hosted a number of successful events throughout 2021, including their Theater 2021 performance showcase and the park’s first ever Juneteenth Celebration.
The Super Bowl Sunday event took place on the same day as the New York City Marathon, which brought even more people out of their houses and into the streets and parks of Downtown Brooklyn.
“As things continue to improve after the pandemic, this park will still be full everyday,” Gallo said. “I don’t think that is going to change anytime soon.”
The Cadman Park Conservancy has a busy week ahead. This Thursday, the group will host its annual Veterans Day Event at 10:30 a.m. Local politicians and veterans will speak, concluding with a special honor guard salute for recently deceased World War II veteran, writer, and Brooklynite Norman Wasserman.