A group of people posing for a photo in a park.

Dear Friend,

It’s difficult to describe the sense of joy and relief I felt when we learned that our precious Parade Ground would not be converted into a cricket stadium in 2024. 

But I don’t need to describe it—because you felt it too! In 2023, Van Cortlandt Park Alliance, along with you—our amazing community friends and partners protected our park, ensuring that it would continue to be available as essential open space, to be enjoyed by millions of people, 365 days of the year. 

The Parade Ground is the heart and soul of Van Cortlandt Park. Home to cross country races, soccer, baseball, concerts, movies, and our very own cricket leagues, we are thrilled to say it continues to be free and accessible for your fun and enjoyment this coming year and beyond.

A man and woman smiling at a table with a box of food.

VCPA Board Chair Charlie Samboy and staffer Sophie Regina are all smiles!

That’s because Van Cortlandt Park Alliance fights for what’s best for the park. Always. 

Whether it is protecting valuable parkland or advocating for Daylighting and extending the Putnam Greenway all the way from Van Cortlandt Park South to West 230th Street, VCPA is always looking out for the park and your access to it… with your help, of course. Because together, we are even better! And, we are busy doing so much more for you, all year long.

Our work includes:

  • Teaching thousands of Bronx school children about the environment and the natural world.
  • Training young people to be the next generation of the green-collar workforce.
  • Coordinating volunteer efforts throughout the park.
  • Presenting large-scale public events like free movies and music.
  • Producing thoughtful cultural programming like our annual Juneteenth Celebration and first Pinkster Festival.
  • Providing healthy fruits and veggies at our youth-led farm stand, located in a known food desert.
  • Protecting delicate woodland and wetland ecosystems through stewardship projects.
  • Working hand-in-hand with NYC Parks to support their Herculean efforts to maintain the park’s fields, trails, playgrounds, and other assets on a daily basis.

Your support made it possible for us to do all these great things and more in 2023. THANK YOU!


A group of people standing in front of a picture of a stadium.

VCPA Deputy Director Christina Taylor advocates for your park.(From left: NYC Council Members Shekar Krishnan and Eric Dinowitz,NYS Assembly Member Jeff Dinowitz, US Representative Ritchie Torres)

Three young women in yellow shirts standing next to a basket of vegetables.

Garden 2 Market Teen Interns working at the Youth-led Farm Stand.

2023: A Year of Firsts 

Whether it’s watching the fireworks display after the New York Philharmonic concert, eating pretzels at our annual Hike-toberfest, or spending contemplative time at Hester & Piero’s Mill Pond, these delights are unique to Van Cortlandt Park. We know you love them as much as we do! 

This past year, we started new traditions with you, like introducing our first-ever Pinkster Festival! During the 17th and 18th centuries, enslaved and free Africans and African Americans transformed Pinkster from a Dutch religious observance into a spring festival and a celebration of African cultural traditions. 

It was also an opportunity to share the newly installed Baobab Tree of Life, created by Ghanaian artist Tijay Mohammed and fabricated by Beam Center. The temporary artwork is a vibrant, 18-foot sculpture with a colorful mosaic base, Adinkra symbols, and hundreds of MetroCards! Located across from the Enslaved African Burial Ground, there is a palpable relationship between sacred ground and art installation.

On May 6th, working with master percussionist Chief Baba Neil Clarke, NY cultural historian and interpreter Lavada Nahon, master storyteller April Armstrong, educator Ashley Hart Adams, and Van Cortlandt House Museum, we presented a gorgeous and festive event replete with live music, storytelling, and African food, games, and crafts. 

On May 6th, working with master percussionist Chief Baba Neil Clarke, NY cultural historian and interpreter Lavada Nahon, master storyteller April Armstrong, educator Ashley Hart Adams, and Van Cortlandt House Museum, we presented a gorgeous and festive event replete with live music, storytelling, and African food, games, and crafts.

There are so many more FABULOUS FIRSTS!

  • Introductory sessions of Green Scholars afterschool and weekend programming for Bronx teens, working with our colleagues at NYBG.
  • Newly expanded Farm & Compost Site is ready for school children to harvest the last of the season’s produce. 
  • Inaugural Benefit Run on March 4th, with all proceeds going to care for the cross country course, was a winner.
  • New partnership with Rooftop Films, NYC’s best producer of outdoor movies made our second season of Starlight Cinema even more welcoming.  
  • New York premier of Story Ave, an independent film written and directed by the Bronx’s own Aristotle Torres, brought so many new friends to the park.
  • Music in the Park from June through September with partners: Bronx Arts Ensemble, KRVC, Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, and NYPhil entertained thousands of community members. 
  • DIY lightsaber duels at our would-be Star Wars showing, in coordination with artist Rhynna M. Santos and her Photoville exhibit in the park, Fandom Unbound was a delight. (If only the wind had cooperated!)
  • Debut of our Howl-O-Ween Doggie Costume Contest was a pawsome success.
  • Canine Court Volunteer Days are off to a fetching start!
A man and woman walking a dog.

It was a truly momentous year and we look forward to doing more for you!

Your support will make it possible for us to continue advocating for your park and helping out when the budget falls short—like now. Mayor Adams has called for budget cuts to NYC Parks… 5% has already been cut from a very lean budget and we are looking at yet another drop in short order.  

Your gift today will help us plan our strategy to maintain the cross country course and woodlands, hire seasonal staff to support NYC Parks in the field, and purchase essentials like shovels, rakes, and even garbage bags. 

Our goal is to make sure we can hire staff and buy the stuff we need! With your vital contribution, together we can keep the park safe, clean, and beautiful for our community. 

Support your park today!

With gratitude, 

Stephanie Ehrlich
Executive Director, Van Cortlandt Park Alliance
Park Administrator, NYC Parks 

P.S. The park is really big. Our staff is really small. Only with your help can we grow our capacity, hire more staff, and take on even more projects to make Van Cortlandt Park shine like the emerald jewel we know it can and should be. Please consider a gift to Van Cortlandt Park Alliance today securely online at vancortlandt.org/donate/.

Your gift, no matter the size, will make a difference and help sustain the park. 

Donate to the Annual Fund


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