Monday, September 06, 2010

"Park"ing Failure - The Governors Island Food Truck Fair

So, we went to "Parked" yesterday on Governors Island, thinking we were in a for a fun Labor Day weekend adventure.

We were wrong.

Starting out we were lucky enough to get to the ferry at the Battery Maritime Building at a decent hour, so the line to get on the boat wasn't atrocious.  However, as the line moved into the terminal the staff was clearly unprepared for the number of people vying for a taste of the food truck fest.  The orderly line soon devolved into a chaotic mess, with the ferry terminal staff arguing over the system and eventually telling the crowd to amass near the door to the boat. People who had been waiting longer, like us, where now just part of the mess and once the doors were opened the stampede pushed us, squeezing through the bottleneck, as though there was gold to be had as you boarded the ferry.

Once on the island we were directed to Colonel’s Row where the trucks were parked, only to discover that some thousand people had already made it there and were corralled into massive lines.

We filed into place in the line for Hallo Berlin and waited some 20+ minutes when, realizing the line wasn't moving, Ren headed to the front to see what was causing the clog.  Turns out only one person was serving under the white tent and so each order was taking several minutes.  We scouted around, considering the other trucks in attendance (Red Hook Lobster Pound, Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, Hermelinda Mexicana, Kelvin Natural Slush Company, Rickshaw Dumpling and The Cinnamon Snail) but saw that the lines were as long or longer.  In particular, the Red Hook Lobster Pound line spread beyond our own line and far behind the beer stand.  Weighing our options we gave up.  Our 40 minute subway ride plus 20 minute wait at the terminal plus 10 minute ferry ride plus 20+ minutes of waiting for German sausages that were slow coming resulted in over an hour and a half of stomach grumbling hanger.

We cut our losses and decided to explore parts of the island that we'd missed previously... and to search out the regular food carts that we knew were dotted around the island.  After tromping around for a bit we ended up near St. Cornelius Chapel where we found a lovely Greek husband and wife team who were thrilled to have customers who had drifted from the frustration of the "Parked" event.  Handing us our food with a huge smile we then enjoyed our lunch on picnic benches and breather a sigh of relief that we had escaped the crowds.

Getting home though was another matter.

The line for the ferry back to Manhattan wasn't so long, but the wait was.  The larger of the two ferries arrived, deboarded and then sat still at the dock for 20 minutes.  We could see the second and smaller of the two ferries leaving the Manhattan dock and heading our way.  After 10 minutes it too arrived at the island and deboarded.  Then the staff decided it should let the bicycles and pedestrians cross the exit path from side to side and then finally we were allowed to climb on board for the journey home.

All in all, a failed Labor Day weekend adventure.  The ferry system and the "Parked" administrators needed to be better prepared for the crowds.  So much could have been done to make the event fun and spectacular, but in the end it was a terrible bust.  Next time, we'll just go straight to Hallo Berlin's Hell's Kitchen restaurant and skip the madness.

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