Thursday, October 3, 2013

Googa Mooga Not Returning To Prospect Park

Some of the damage caused by what some critics called the not-so Great Googa Mooga event held for the past two years in Prospect Park.  The controversial event will not be returning to the park.  (Photo:  Anne-Katrin Titze)


By Geoffrey Croft

The Great Googa Mooga event will not be returning to Prospect Park after a disastrous two-year run according to a Parks Department official.

The three day booze-fest was routinely criticized by park users,  neighborhood residents, park advocates as an inappropriate commercial event held on public parkland.

The event damaged grass, prevented the general public from accessing dozens of acres for weeks and disturbed habitat for the park's animals according to naturalists. 

The news was revealed this afternoon,  ironically by Michael Bloomberg family friend Besty Smith, head of revenue and marketing for the Parks Department at a City Council oversight hearing entitled,  The Private Use of Public Parkland: Do Large Scale Events Benefit Parks. 

 The event was also used as a Prospect Park Alliance fundraiser.  The Prospect Park Alliance received only a $ 75,000 event fee from the organizers this year. 

“Large events occur because New Yorkers demand them,” Smith told the council with a straight face.

“After two years of assessing [GoogaMooga] in that site, we pretty much feel at this time that it’s probably not the appropriate venue for something like that,”  she said. 

Smith added that the festival caused “more damage than we thought” after this year’s event  and said organizers were looking for another location. 

The news comes as the Bloomberg administration is increasing using public parks cash cows to raise revenue for the city while privatizing and restricting access to parks. 

The desperate measures conservancies and so called public-private partnerships groups are now employing in order to raise funds is also of great concern.

It was revealed earlier this year that the Prospect Park Alliance received only $ 75,000 for this years Googa Mooga event - $ 25,000 less than last year.  The City also required that the Police Department be reimbursed to the tune of $ 347, 147,00 dollars, compared to 
$ 300,000.00 to cover expenses from last year's event. 

This year the festival, which billed itself as an  "amusement park of food, drink and music," was forced to cancel the final day due to rain.

Last year's absorbent prices, including $ 267 VIP's tickets and shortage of food and long lines did not help to endear the public to the event.  

"We understand and support the Department of Parks & Recreation's decision, and we look forward to continuing a great working relationship with them, both on this project and others in the future,"  Superfly Presents,  the event organizers,  said in a written statement. 

"We thank the Prospect Park Alliance for the opportunity to bring GoogaMooga to Prospect Park the past two years, and we pledge our continued support for their mission to make the park an enjoyable and world-class public space."  

We cannot confirm future plans at this time. "

Read More:

The Brooklyn Paper - October 4, 2013  -  By Natalie Musumeci

City gives GoogaMooga the boot(a) 

Crains New York  -  October 4, 2013 - By Theresa Agovino  

A Walk In The Park  - May 19, 2013 - By Geoffrey Croft 

GoogaMooga Rears Its Ugly Head Again. Park To Get Less Money - Cops $ More
A Walk In The Park - May 18, 2013 -  By Geoffrey Croft


  1. Congratulations to the people of New York City that love our parks. I wanted to share a letter that I sent to NYC Parks & Recreation's Assistant Commissioner for Revenue and Marketing, Betsy Smith, this morning in response to one of her comments at the meeting.

    Dear Ms Smith,

    Although I am very pleased with the NYC Parks and Recreation's decision to not renew the contract to book Googa Mooga again, I found some of your words very troubling.
    “Large events occur because New Yorkers demand them,” Smith told the council. “They love them and they turn out in large numbers to enjoy them.”

    You are absolutely wrong. This supply side economics success is no indicator as to whether New Yorkers "enjoy" or "demand" them. If they were something that tax paying New Yorkers demanded then why is there no rich and lengthy history of them existing in NYC Parks? Why are they a relatively new component to parks? They have been manufactured by greed and shoved down our throats. The only "New Yorkers" that enjoy these events are hordes of tourists, and the transient populations of temporary New York dwellers, in addition to the people making money off of them.

    I am so thoroughly disgusted by the trajectory that NYC Parks has taken on throughout the last half of Benepe's tenure, and what is continuing on down this path of privatizing and commercializing parks. That legacy will be a stain on New York City history in the years to come. You can be assured that parks advocates will continue to rail against the public/private model that you endorse. State Parks has unfortunately chosen to follow your lead and give away East River State Park on the weekends to private promoters. The group that I moderate on Facebook, Friends and Families of McCarren Park, will be attending a meeting Tuesday night regarding East River State Parks private programming. No doubt, the death of Googa Mooga will be cited as a huge victory for real New Yorkers that love parks as parks, instead of as shopping malls, food courts, and concert venues.

    It may take time to undo the damage that parks administrators and city administrators have done to parks, but we are a tireless lot. WE understand that there is not a financial solution to an ethical dilemma of letting parks be parks.

  2. Great letter, Anonymous! Love that last paragraph. Very true.

    Wish I'd known about that hearing. I would have been there. Thanks for the coverage, AWITP.

    (Can we park advocates get better at sharing this information about these hearings? I found out about the last Council hearing 2 hours before it occurred on "oversight" of conservancies. The Conservancies and NYers for Parks of the world seem to network quite nicely for themselves.)


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