By Aaron Stukey
Hello, my name is Aaron Stukey and I am writing about the Town Shop trip to the “big apple” this past April. For starters, it was my first trip to New York (I thought I went when I was eight years old, but it was technically New Jersey). For being my first time in the city, I had an amazing time, and everything flowed together nicely, it was an absolutely picture perfect weekend.
The drive was definitely scenic, and didn’t take too much time it seemed. There was a lot to look at out the windows on 81 South and then further down. We then arrived at the host families house in Glen Rock, NJ. They were very nice people and had a very beautiful home. The family was Julie (a former Town Shop youth), her husband Jeff who graduated from Syracuse University, and their two children Nathan and Emma, who were very adorable. We got all of our stuff situated and then hit the road for the short drive into the city.
From the second we hit the George Washington bridge to cross into NY, I was amazed. I had never seen anything like it before in my life. We crossed the bridge, drove around trying to find a parking space, and miraculously ended up driving right through Times Square! That was definitely a visual experience. We found a parking space and then broke into a few groups and explored the neighborhood known as St. Marks, which was filled with a ton of unique shops and vendors, and many nice people who I conversed with. Afterwards, we found that we had a little bit of time left that night, so we took the subway to Grand Central Station(which was very beautiful) and took a walk to the NBC studios, which in itself was a sight to see. Afterwards, we were able to head to Times Square for a short time, but I have never seen anything so vibrant and alive as I did that night, and I loved every second of it. The group I was with that night checked out all the major attractions there: The Virgin Megastore, Toys R Us, ESPN gamezone, etc. We then afterwards headed back to Jeff and Julie’s home and went to sleep to get ready for the next morning.
The next morning we arrived in the city at around 11 o’clock am. We took a walk around the outskirts of Central Park and headed to the Museum of Natural History (who was paid for by a past patron of the Town Shop and I appreciate it greatly- it was totally worth it) and we broke into separate groups and explored the museum. I saw the exhibits of North American Mammals, African Mammals, Dinosaurs, Oceanic life and The Universe. I stopped almost every 30 seconds to take pictures, but it was every second worthwhile. After the museum, we all walked over to Central Park and checked out Strawberry fields, which was breathtaking watching all the people surrounding the area. I have never seen a park as gorgeous as this, I thought it ten times better than what I’ve seen in the movies. Right by the Summer stage, there were people rollerblading and doing tricks, and I couldn’t help but stop and watch that for a few minutes.
Afterwards, we all went to Washington Square Park (my favorite part of the trip) and decided when to meet back up. We had about 4 and a half hours to go explore different areas, but for the most part, I stayed around the park and watched many of the street performers(who were amazing). The whole group met up, and we then took a walk to Little Italy and checked out all the shops and culture there, and then Chinatown (where I bought the best Green Tea I’ve ever had!). After we scoped those areas out for a decent amount of time, we swung back over to Times Square, and Dan Nolan (a Town Shop Volunteer) my friend Logan, and I went to the Hard Rock CafÃ©, and I witnessed a lot of rock and roll historical memorabilia. Afterwards we all walked down Broadway to meet back up with Dave and the van to get picked up and head back to NJ. Miraculously, it started sprinkling the second after we all got into the Van, it couldn’t have been better timing. On the drive back we all talked about how much fun we had and all that we had seen, and then we managed to make it through 90 green lights on the way out of NY. I couldn’t believe it, but to me it was a metaphor for how much fun I had had and how amazed I was at all that I have seen. We had all managed to make it through comfortably without spending too much money, everybody got along extremely well, the host family was so gracious and well liked. I really got along with the children too (we played hide and seek when we were in the house at NJ, and I had a lot of fun with them). Dave and Dan both were very good chaperones. The way they explained and guided us through everything was as smooth as I could be, and I am very grateful that my first trip to the “big apple” was with the Town Shop, and hopefully it won’t be the last!
Interested in sharing a story from a past Town Shop experience? Submit a story here at firstname.lastname@example.org!