is a great place for kids; they can run through the long meadow, meet , and even . But why should kids have all the fun?
“We do a lot for children,” said Prospect Park spokesman Eugene Patron, “and we’ve always tried to find new things to interest adults.”
If you’re looking for a more grown-up way to enjoy the park, call up your sweetheart and head to the Audubon Center for a Thursday night . Patron said the park has been running the tours for the past four or five seasons, and they’ve been a hit.
The 6:30pm tour starts with wine and cheese on the balcony of the gorgeous 106-year-old Boathouse, where we mingled with fellow tour-goers (about 24 altogether) and enjoyed the view of the Lullwater.
Around 7 p.m., we broke into two groups for twilight lake tours on Prospect Park’s electric boats, modeled after the ultra-quiet boats park creator Frederick Law Olmsted designed in the late 1800s. Our knowledgeable captain, Bill DelQuaglio, lives within a few blocks of the park and has been leading boat tours for five years.
During our 20-minute ride, DelQuaglio introduced us to parts of the park you would never notice from land. The Lullwater Bridge across from the Boathouse, for example, has a beautiful metal ceiling on the bottom, because the Lullwater used to be an ice skating spot, and the architects didn’t want skaters to glide under the bridge and see unfinished beams. He also pointed out Phragmites, an invasive reed brought in from Australia in the park’s early days that develops 12-foot roots.
After we cruised around Prospect Park Lake, we returned to the Boathouse for more refreshments while the second group took their tour. My tour-mates were friendly and sociable, and they ranged in age from mid-20s to early 50s. There is nothing physically strenuous about the tour, and older attendees would be quite comfortable, provided they are able to take the large step into and out of the electric boat. While there is nothing inappropriate for kids on the tour, the slower pace is geared toward adults, and I would recommend taking kids on the regular boat tours instead, which run Thursday to Sunday from 12:30pm-5:00pm.
Another thing I don’t recommend: going alone. Nearly everyone was on a date, with the exception of one mother/adult daughter pair. One attendee had surprised his girlfriend; he had only told her they were going for a bike ride in the park. Most of the couples, like David and Cynthia Simonoff of Park Slope, had spotted the tour information online, either on the Prospect Park website or through the Alliance’s membership newsletter.
“I thought, ‘Oh, that might be really nice. Go out on the boat, enjoy the weather.’” Cynthia said.
Others had been waiting a long time to fit the tour into their busy lives, but were very glad they had.
“I found out about it a year ago,” said Ian King of Park Slope. “I tried to get friends to go with me but it took me about a year to finally get it together. So far it’s been great. I’ve really enjoyed it.”
After everyone had returned from the water portion of the tour, we met our Bat Expert, naturalist Paul Keim, who consults for Prospect Park and leads bat tours throughout the city. With his visual aid (a Beanie Baby bat), he gave an accessible but informative talk about the importance of bats and the truth behind many of our most common bat myths: they don’t suck your blood, they don’t fly into your hair, and they probably won’t give you rabies.
Then, around 8:45pm, it was bat time! We headed out to the Nethermead, where Keim turned on his echo-locator, which slows down bats’ echolocation waves and allowed us to hear a “tick-tick-tick” when they were coming. Soon, we were oohing and aahing over the bats swooping over our heads, happy to use our body heat to attract their mosquito dinners. A warning to photography enthusiasts: getting a picture of a bat hunting at twilight is nearly impossible; they’re too fast and it’s too dark. Either take a video or put the camera down and just enjoy the view.
The Twilight Tour at Prospect Park would be enjoyable for most couples or groups of friends, but it’s a particularly good date for those still getting to know each other; there’s enough time to stand around and chat, but the provided activities mean you don’t have to come up with three straight hours of compelling conversation. And after you’ve stood in the dark watching bats fly overhead, who wouldn’t want to leave the park snuggled under somebody’s arm?
Prospect Park will be running at 6:30pm July 28, August 11, August 25, and September 1. Call (718) 287-3400, ext. 303 and leave a message for reservations; they will be confirmed by phone. $30/person, cash only. Meet at the Audubon Center, just inside the Lincoln Road/Ocean Ave. park entrance.