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City Parks Trail North Dakota Green Space in National Grant Contest

By Mary Johnson | August 26, 2011 8:58am
Madison Square Park is situated along Madison Avenue between East 26th and East 23rd streets.
Madison Square Park is situated along Madison Avenue between East 26th and East 23rd streets.
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DNAinfo/Mary Johnson

FLATIRON — In a nationwide park popularity contest, New York is losing badly — to North Dakota.

People from across the country are voting online in a Coca-Cola contest to determine America's favorite park. The green space with the most votes as of Sept. 6 will not only get a $100,000 grant, but also the notoriety of being No. 1 in the nation.

But with less than two weeks of voting left, no New York City park ranks among the country's top 10.

In fact, they are not even close.

Madison Square Park currently ranks at No. 298 on the list, with about 530 votes and counting. Central Park has brought in 284 votes. And Bryant Park has garnered just 15 votes.

Oak Park in Minot, N.D., meanwhile, has collected more than 2.6 million votes.

The Central Park Reservoir.
The Central Park Reservoir.
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Flickr/angela n.

Judging by population alone, New York City should have an easy time walloping Minot, which has just more than 40,000 people.

But Minot’s Oak Park has a good reason for leading the pack. While New York parks have history and monuments, the Great Lawn and a Shake Shack, Minot has flooding — the worst the city has ever seen.

In the wake of the natural disaster, sympathy votes are coming in droves.

“The Minot community is picking up their boots and pulling on their work gloves,” the Minot Convention and Visitors Bureau wrote in a blog post advertising the Coca-Cola contest. “We are slowly but surely cleaning up the mess that the Mouse River has left behind.”

If it wins, Minot plans to use the money to rebuild Oak Park, which was devastated by the flooding.

The parks of New York City are almost certainly going to lose.

Mike Rucker, director of marketing, programs and communications for the Madison Square Park Conservancy, said he was fairly confident a come-from-behind victory was not in the park’s future.

An image of Oak Park in North Dakota.
An image of Oak Park in North Dakota.
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Madison Square Park wasn't really in it to win it in the first place.

“It’s just a fun way to get people to interact with us,” Rucker said. “What a great thing to be doing to support parks across the country.”