On a sunny Saturday in September, 30 Greeters gathered to celebrate the second annual International Greeter Day with a walk through the Hamilton Heights neighborhood in northern Manhattan.
Big Apple Greeter’s founder, Lynn Brooks (1930-2013) envisioned a core of friendly New Yorkers (“Greeters”) who would share their love of the city with visitors from around the world – free of charge. Lynn’s vision started an international movement, and 25 years later, there are 150 Greeter programs in 37 countries that make up the Global Greeter Network. To honor Lynn, the Mother of all Greeters, the celebration took place on her birthday.
Greeters Leigh Hallingby and Maggie Brown gave us a bird’s eye view of murals showing birds that are threatened by climate change in North America. The ongoing Audubon Bird Murals Project hopes to create murals for all the birds. We saw murals on the sides of buildings and on storefront security shutters only visible when the store is closed. Some murals included flowers, some included neighborhood history, and there were even murals of John James Audubon himself.
Audubon (1785 – 1851) was the greatest painter of birds of all times. He lived the last ten years of his life in this area, and we walked to his grave site in the Trinity Church Cemetery at 157th Street and Broadway.
To complete our lovely day, we had lunch in a Salvadorian restaurant, La Libertad. We feasted on exotic dishes such as Tamal de Gallina, corn dough stuffed with chicken, potato and green olives; and chicharron & cheese pupas, pan-fried soft dough stuffed with pork and cheese. Had our founder, Lynn, been with us, she’d have used her favorite word to describe the day: “Wonderful!”