NOLITA — As a popular indoor pop-up park on Mulberry Street closed for the season Tuesday afternoon, parkgoers enjoying the imitation greenery said the venue revealed an important need for free park space in NoLIta and surrounding neighborhoods.
During the two months that Openhouse Gallery's Park Here ran an indoor green paradise at 201 Mulberry St., between Spring and Kenmare streets, cooped-up Manhattan kids always had someplace safe and free to run around, grateful parents said on the venue's final day of operation on Tuesday.
"This is [my son's] favorite place on the planet," said Joshua Griffler, 32, who took his 1-year-old son Logan to the space at least twice a week since it opened in December, and was there for the final day it was open.
"Everybody here's trying to deal with having so little space at home. It would be great to see more indoor park spaces."
Brooklyn parent Monica Muller, 33, who fed her 9-month-old son Leon on a picnic blanket Tuesday, and said she wasn't sure where they would go once the space closed down.
"There are other indoor spaces [for kids], but they all cost money," she said.
The indoor park, which has been open daily from 12 noon to 6 p.m., has offered free wireless Internet, quilted hammocks, large pillows, benches and bistro tables thanks to corporate sponsorship and events by Puma, Tiffany, Time Out New York and more.
Community Board 2 chair Brad Hoylman said he personally found the idea of a park with a marketing component "less than ideal," but added that downtown park space is at a premium.
"Public open space for kids is always in high demand in our area, and a covered space that's free is even more so during bad weather," Hoylman said.
Brooklyn resident Santiago Parga, who ate a cookie on a picnic blanket with his girlfriend Tuesday, said he appreciated that Park Here had provided an alternative to going to coffee shops.
"What's nice about this place is you can come and sit and not spend any money," he said.
The space even provided safe haven for model Huyen Trang, 21, who lounged on a stack of pillows in the park on Tuesday a few hours before walking in her first Fashion Week shows.
"That they built this place for everyone for free is amazing," she said.
The gallery space will serve as temporary grilled cheese sandwich vendor The Big Cheesy Feb. 25 and 26.
The pop-up park will open again in January 2013, Spielberg said.