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Central Park’s Great Lawn closes after damage from Global Citizen Festival

Casa Rosada | Wikimedia Commons

The Central Park Conservancy announced the temporary closing of the Great Lawn following damage caused by the Global Citizen Festival on Oct. 3.

A crowd of half its usual size of 60,000 attended in the pouring rain, ultimately causing damage to the Great Lawn. The Central Park Conservancy reported that the festival’s equipment, rain and heavy foot traffic had wrecked the grass, requiring it to be reseeded.

New Yorkers cannot access the area during the fall, closing six weeks earlier than the usual maintenance period. The maintenance period usually lasts from November through April. While the damage has not been fully assessed, the park conservancy hopes to reopen the lawn in April 2024.

Global Citizen has vowed to cover the costs of the damage in addition to the fee for using the park. While the cost has yet to be fully calculated, Councilwoman Gale Brewer has estimated a price of $1 million.

Brewer criticized this year’s event, condemning festival organizers for hosting the concert despite the torrent of rain.

Postponement or cancellation could have prevented the damage done to the Great Lawn, but Global Citizen defended its actions.

A statement released by the Global Citizen organizers said they worked closely with the city, which supported the event’s continuation. Discussions of confirmations for the festival were held with the New York City mayor’s office, the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and other city agencies to confirm the final go-ahead.

The festival was held on Sept. 23, with a star-studded lineup including The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lauryn Hill, BTS’ Jungkook and many more.

Global Citizen aims to raise awareness for social issues such as global poverty, world hunger, lack of access to education and climate change, but its mission has been called into question after the destruction of the lawn.

Critics have called to move events out of Central Park, citing damage from previous years.

Paul Simon held a free concert in 1991, amassing a crowd of tens of thousands affecting the area. In later years, a drought and movie screenings with over 100,000 people in attendance led to a two-year closure and a hefty price of $18.2 million in restorations.

This year’s festival received backlash because campers waited in line for days to get a closer view. Not only did they leave trash and camping equipment behind, but they also posed a safety risk because they slept outside the park without surveillance.

Many festivalgoers tweeted their displeasure with the event’s continuation despite the downpour.

Performers from Global Citizen’s 2023 lineup have not commented on the lawn damage.

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