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Summer on the Hudson Brings Free Zumba, Movies, Concerts to Riverside Park

Summer on the Hudson, a series of free events in Riverside Park, includes game days where games and toys are brought out for the public to enjoy.
Summer on the Hudson, a series of free events in Riverside Park, includes game days where games and toys are brought out for the public to enjoy.
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Allison Parman

UPPER WEST SIDE — From kite flying to zumba to dance safaris, there's something for everyone to enjoy at Riverside Park's Summer on the Hudson, a free summer events line-up.

The series of concerts, films, fitness classes and other free events is now in full swing and will provide hours of free entertainment until September.

While Central Park is well-known as a hub of summer fun, Riverside Park offers just as many opportunities to soak up the fun as part of its Riverside Park for Summer on the Hudson, according to director of public programming Zhen Heinemann.

"They're really simple activities that don't cost a lot of money but everyone has a good time," Heinemann said. "I don't want to sound corny, but there's a loving feeling when people come to these events."

This year's schedule includes simple pleasures like a kite-flying festival on Aug. 18 where kids can make and fly their own kites, and the West Side County Fair in September, where kids can marvel at stilt walkers and meet a boa constrictor up close.

The theme for this year's series of movies under the stars is bicyles. Look for the 1986 bike messenger classic "Quicksilver" starring Kevin Bacon in July, as well as "Amelie," "Cinema Paradiso," "Pee-wee's Big Adventure," and the 2003 animated French feature "The Triplets of Belleville."

The free movies are shown outdoors at Pier I in Riverside Park South, which runs along the Hudson River from West 59th to West 72nd Street.

The bike-focused movies aren't the only reason cyclists should be celebrating. Summer on the Hudson also features free learn to ride clinics with Bike and Roll.

For people looking to get in shape outside, there are free zumba and yoga classes.

This year marks the second summer of programming at West Harlem Piers Park, near West 125th Street on the Hudson River. The schedule there includes children's "play date" events where kids can do arts and crafts while they watch performers like jugglers. Last year about 30 participants showed up at the most well-attended play dates, but this year attendance doubled to 70 at the first play date in May, Heinemann said.

"People are really starting to identify that this kind of programming happens in the park, and that they can take advantage of the park for beautiful views, but also because there are these events that they can go to and bring their kids to," Heinemann said.

Other events at West Harlem Piers Park, which are sponsored by nearby supermarket Fairway, will include lunchtime concerts and poetry readings with an open mic hosted by young poets from Urban Word.

For residents closer to the middle of Riverside Park, there will be weekly tai chi classes from May through August and a human chess game in September at the Soldiers' and Sailors' monument on West 89th Street and Riverside Drive.

Aside from Summer on the Hudson events, Heinemann noted that Riverside Park will play host to other entertainment this summer such as free Shakespeare performances by Hudson Warehouse, a theater company that also performs Shakespeare plays in bars, and free concerts near West 96th Street hosted by the Riverside Clay Tennis Association.

For the full line-up of Summer on the Hudson events, check the official schedule here.