Musicians Shushed and Pushed From Central Park
By Amy Zimmer
DNAinfo News Editor
MANHATTAN — The area around Central Park's Bethesda Fountain, where arcade acoustics have long been a favorite for musicians, has been officially declared a "quiet zone," leading to a ticketing blitz to opera singers, harp players and other buskers.
Park officials posted a "quiet zone" sign in the iconic spot last week, according to the New York Post, but baritone John Boyd told the paper that authorities began issuing summonses for his singing starting a month ago.
The 48-year-old former choir director from Detroit was reportedly hit with five tickets totaling $2,300, culminating in an arrest on Wednesday when he was hauled off to the Central Park police precinct.
"I have a right to free speech," Boyd told the Post. "When I sing, it is expressing what I believe in. I told them, 'You are not chasing me away.' "
Other musicians said they've been imtimidated by park officials.
Double-bass player Vasyl Fomytskyi, formerly of the Cairo Symphony Orchestra, said cops threatened to arrest him and confiscate his instrument when he's played near the fountain.
A spokesman for the Central Park Conservancy, the nonprofit that oversees the park, justified the zone to the Post, saying the fountain was "a place for quiet reflection."
Fines for violating the quiet zone range up to $200.