News & Events

Here’s what the press is saying about Big Apple Greeter.

Big Apple Greeter has been featured in thousands of stories – in print, on television and radio, and on the Internet – bringing the message of a friendly and accessible New York City to millions of potential visitors all around the world. Here are a few stories to enjoy!


Boasting about the Bronx
The Bronx Free Press
By Gregg McQueen
April 9, 2014

Featured Interview – The Big Apple Greeter
March 17,2014
(Click on the image below to be directed to to view the video)

Interview: Making NYC Less Intimidating For Visitors

September 2013


Lynn Brooks, Big Apple Greeter – Entrepreneurial Success

By Alan Hall
October 2012

Q&A: Big Apple Greeter shares visitors’ views of NYC
AM New York

By Sheila Anne Feeney
August 2012

Saul Raw of Park Slope is 2012 Big Apple Greeter of the Year
Daily News

By Clem Richardson

June 2012

New York to the Core
Brussels Airlines b.there! magazine
February 2012

Prolific Volunteer in the City Gets a Helping Hand
New York Times
December 24, 2011

A Building With a Heart of Gold
Big Apple Greeter volunteer Brad Smith interviewed by the New York Times
New York Times
December 9, 2011

Greet-A-Thon video
Produced by Anthony Lopez


By Melanie Grayce West
24 May 2011
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal – Print and Online
(Copyright (c) 2011, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)

The nonprofit Big Apple Greeter helps to personalize a visit to New York City for thousands of visitors annually. Philanthropist Ariadne Getty wants to keep the greeters going.

Through her Fuserna Foundation, the oil heiress is giving the organization $400,000 to help take it through 2012. The nonprofit received $200,000 from the foundation last year.

Ms. Getty, 48 years old, is the granddaughter of J. Paul Getty. She says her Los Angeles and London- based foundation provides grants to help get existing charities through lean times. Often, says Ms. Getty, the organizations are “unpopular causes that need time to learn how to fund-raise or apply for grants.”

The foundation focuses on programs related to children and the elderly. Recent grants include a gift to the 9th Ward Field of Dreams, an organization that is building a community space, track and football field in New Orleans. In the case of Big Apple Greeter, Ms. Getty simply called the nonprofit to introduce herself and her foundation, extending an offer to help.

Her first grant to Big Apple Greeter last summer, which came shortly after Ms. Getty’s call and a period of research by her foundation, kept the organization in business, says Lynn Brooks, founder of Big Apple Greeter. Financially, the organization is “definitely healthier but we are not out of the woods,” she says. The organization’s priorities are to rebuild its reserve fund and develop a five-year strategy.

Big Apple Greeter, in existence for nearly 20 years, welcomes about 7,000 visitors to the city each year, offering each a free and unique tour of a city neighborhood. Visitors come from all 50 states and countries ranging from Latvia to Malaysia. On average, they donate about $25 to the organization for the service.

Tourists are met by one of the organization’s “real New Yorkers,” a team of roughly 350 volunteers who come from all five boroughs and range from college age to 80 years old. The greeters take visitors to either a favorite, locals-only spot or accompany tourists to major sites, spending on average four hours with visitors.

Ms. Brooks says that the majority of visitors who use the service like it because it helps to humanize the city and make it more comfortable.” New York is perceived as way too big, way too busy, way too unfriendly and way too dangerous, even today,” says Ms. Brooks.

At the same time, greeters love the organization because they are giving back to the city. Many of the greeters are retirees and enjoy taking tourists to oft-forgotten neighborhoods in the city.

The organization says that many greeters stay in touch with the tourists.

It was the greeters who show their community spirit — not the service to visitors — that enchanted Ms. Getty. “I loved the fact that it was a community-based program,” she says.

Of course, tourists could pay a professional to see the city, says Ms. Getty, but she feels that the real value of the organization’s service is in seeing a neighborhood that means something to the greeter. “It’s much more about the greeter than the person being greeted,” she says.

It Happened – Big Apple Greeter
The Battery Park City Broadsheet
June 2, 2011
(follow the link and scroll down for story)


Making Connections Video

City Council Member Mark Weprin as Greeter for a Day
January 5, 2011

The 2010 New York Post Liberty Medals  (pdf)
Lynn Brooks Lifetime Achievement
October 12, 2010


Touring the Big Apple With Big Apple Greeters (It’s Free!)
Eileen Ogintz, Columnist, Taking the Kids
Posted: August 31, 2010 06:45 PM

Crain’s New York Business
August 16, 2010
Nonprofit greeted by Getty surprise

Donation keeps Big Apple Greeter alive
By Lisa Fickenscher
Alicia Pierro and Lynn Brooks
Buck Ennis


GIFT KEEPS GIVING: A $200,000 donation from Ariadne Getty enabled Lynn Brooks (right) and Alicia Pierro to keep Big Apple Greeter running.
Dire pleas for donations from worthy organizations are so common these days, they sound like background noise. So it’s remarkable when one succeeds in attracting a large donor.
That’s exactly what happened to Big Apple Greeter, the tiny nonprofit that matches tourists with volunteer guides. It was on the brink of extinction when a wealthy Californian picked up the phone to offer help after watching a TV news segment about the group’s financial woes (first reported in Crain’s on June 21).
Getty gives
Oil heiress Ariadne Getty recently wired the nonprofit a check for $200,000, buying the group another six months in which to raise more funds.
“We really, really needed this money,” says Lynn Brooks , founder of Big Apple Greeter, adding that her board of directors had instructed her to start shutting down operations by September.
The 18-year-old organization offers unique tours of the city, taking visitors on hours-long trips to neighborhoods off the beaten path. But when corporate donors scaled back last year, Big Apple Greeter hit a wall and had to cut its operating costs to the bone. In June, the group launched a Save Big Apple Greeter campaign, appealing to its 300 volunteers, past and future visitors, and corporate sponsors to help.
The campaign netted nearly $100,000, including $35,000 from the city and many smaller donations from individuals giving as little as $5 to $2,500. But that wasn’t enough to keep Big Apple Greeter afloat.
Enter Ms. Getty, one of five children of J. Paul Getty Jr. She runs Fuserna Foundation, which, according to its website, supports charities that have financial constraints and lack exposure—an eclectic group including the Sierra Leone War Trust for Children and the Santa Monica Mountains & Seashore Foundation.
Ms. Getty could not be reached for comment.
More funds needed
Others clearly share Ms. Getty’s admiration for Big Apple Greeter. A Canadian couple, Frank and Margy Slater, who visited the city in July and toured the Brooklyn Bridge and lower Manhattan with two volunteers, gave $50 and say they will give the organization a second donation next year if it’s needed.
But it will take another large gift like Ms. Getty’s to save Big Apple Greeter once and for all. With corporate supporters still struggling, reaching the group’s $600,000 annual budget is no slam dunk.
“Without a new infusion of cash,” says Executive Director Alicia Pierro, “we won’t be around next year.”


Volunteers Give Free Tours In Cities Around the World
By Anne Wallace Allen, Associated Press Writer
August 1, 2010

Big Apple Greeter faces a huge cash crunch.


Big Apple Greeter founder Lynn Brooks interviewed on Good Day New York.

Big Apple Greeter, volunteer group that gives free tours, facing closure
By Katie Nelson, Daily News Staff Writer
NY Daily News
June 20, 2010


Big Apple Greeter faces cash crunch
By Lisa Fickenscher
Crain’s New York
June 20, 2010


Liu Gets Big Apple Greeter Award
The Queens Gazette
May 26, 2010


Big Apple Greeters Celebrate Organization’s 18th Anniversary
By Samantha Sherman
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
May 19, 2010 in hardcopy, May 18 online


Big Apple Greeter’s recognition of John Liu, Michael Paul
Liu Shuang press reports in New York
World Journal
May 19, 2010


Astoria man spends retirement showing off beloved city
By Nathan Duke
Thursday, April 8, 2010


Big Apple Greeter Executive Director Alicia Pierro interviewed by Renee Lobo from ITV.


Volunteer greeters help tourists see part of city like a native
By Carol Pucci
Seattle Times staff columnist
September 13, 2009


Greeters to welcome visitors to Brighton and Hove
By Tim Ridgway 
The Argus
Hollingbury, Brighton, UK
September 10, 2009

Daily Newser plays Big Apple ‘greeter’ to adventurous tourists in Queens

BY Lisa L. Colangelo

Sunday, September 6th 2009, 4:00 AM

Newser Lisa Colangelo (leaning on fence) shows Netherlands tourists (l. to r.) Pascual and Roelyke Gallego the sights at Gantry Plaza State Park, aided by Big Apple Greeter Suzanne Paliotta.

© New York Daily News, L.P.; reproduced with permission.

Photo by: NY Daily News photographer Enid Alvarez

Newser Lisa Colangelo (leaning on fence) shows Netherlands tourists (l. to r.) Pascual and Roelyke Gallego the sights at Gantry Plaza State Park, aided by Big Apple Greeter Suzanne Paliotta.

The assignment seemed simple enough – the Daily News wanted me to serve as a Big Apple Greeter for a day and take some visitors off the beaten tourism path.

I was a natural for at least part of the task. I’m a native New Yorker, having lived, worked and gone to school here for all but 10 years of my life.

The tour guide part? Not so much.

Gail Morse of Big Apple Greeter set me straight. They are not, she repeated, not a tour company.

“A greeter shows a visitor around the way a friend or a family member would show someone around,” said Morse.

Founder Lynn Brooks started the program in 1992, matching up volunteer greeters with visitors to show them that New York can indeed be friendly and manageable.

After digging through some requests, Morse paired me up with Pascual and Roelyke Gallego, a couple from Leeuwarden, Netherlands. The easygoing pair spoke English and were excited to explore Queens.

Seasoned greeter Suzanne Paliotta came along for moral support. She suggested we start in Forest Hills Gardens.

I was a little skeptical. Was there anything there they would want to see? Most of my school-aged years were spent in that area. It seemed a tad too familiar – even boring.

But I was wrong. Roelyke, a 35-year-old teacher, and Pascual, a 35-year-old tax inspector, soaked in everything from the busy Austin St. shopping strip to the manicured gardens and mansions a few blocks away.

“People don’t think they will see architecture like this in New York City,” said Paliotta.

After checking out the West Side Tennis Club – former site of the U.S. Open – we walked carefully across Queens Blvd., explaining the “Boulevard of Death” moniker, and hopped a bus into the heart of Corona.

There was no way I was taking a visitor into Queens without visiting two borough food landmarks: the Lemon Ice King of Corona and Leo’s Latticini (a.k.a. Mama’s).

Roelyke followed my lead and got a peanut butter ice, while Pascual went with sour green apple.

“We would never have known to come here if you didn’t bring us,” Pascual said. My smug smile disappeared when he looked over at the nearby bocce courts and asked me to explain the game to him.

“Something where you roll balls but it’s not bowling,” I tried, looking at Suzanne for help.

Ugh. Some Italian-American I am. Then again, my family was more likely to bowl at Hollywood Lanes than play bocce.

Recharged by the ices, we walked several blocks to Mama’s, where sisters Irene, Marie and Carmela fussed over Pascual and Roelyke as if they were family.

The couple happily wolfed down Mama’s special sandwiches: mozzarella, salami and peppered ham on semolina bread with peppers and mushrooms.

It was a welcome break from the fast food that had dominated their meals since arriving in the city.

As we walked to Roosevelt Ave. to catch the 7 train to Long Island City, Roelyke and Pascual stopped to take pictures of the trucks lined up under the el. I wasn’t sure why, but they seemed interested and happy.

We walked through Long Island City, showing them the new shiny towers that are replacing factories and warehouses.

“This is lovely,” said Roelyke, as she enjoyed the breeze at Gantry Plaza State Park. “We probably would have never gone here. We probably would have just walked over the Brooklyn Bridge and walked back.”

Big Apple Greeter Rings Closing Bell at NASDAQ

Greeters in front of NASDAQ

Tourism and finance generate top dollar for New York City. On November 29, 2008, representatives of both sectors met on the trading floor when founder Lynn Brooks, board chair Thomas Lewis and a team of volunteers rang the closing bell at NASDAQ, the famed global exchange located in Manhattan’s Time Square. The successful event was hosted by NASDAQ Managing Director and volunteer Greeter Gregg Hernandez.

“Big Apple Greeter is a great reflection on the city with very tangible benefits. The financial industry faces challenges right now and since the current recession is global in nature, the tourism industry in New York has to deliver good value to travelers because people’s disposable income is challenged right know,” says Mr. Hernandez.

Good value indeed. With an army of over 300 volunteer Greeters welcoming visitors and promoting the city as friendly and accessible, Big Apple Greeter has been referred to as the most effective public relations arm of the city, capturing the attention of media and journalists across the globe. In FY08, the organization welcomed journalists from 97 domestic and international media outlets, resulting in approximately 94 story placements globally.

“I think when you can humanize tourism in NY, it can create so much new energy and I really think that’s fantastic,” says Hernandez.

The NASDAQ event received extensive media coverage. Business publications such as The Wall Street Journal, CNBC Fast Money Show, CNBC Squawk Box,, Forbes, Fox News, the BBC and many other business publications from Asia, Latin America and the Middle East all covered the BAG event.

—Janet Alicea

More In the Press

Westdeutsche Zeitung – June 2008 (JPG file)

L’Entreprise – May 2008 (PDF file)

Neue Zurcher Zeitung – March 2008 (JPG file)

North West London Newspapers – December 2007 (PDF file)

The New York Times – May 2006 (PDF file)

Le Figaro – February 2006 (PDF file)

The Delta Shuttle (PDF file)