Volume 16 • Issue 48 | APRIL 23-29, 2004


A little green and garbage to spruce up course

Maria Reidelbach is working on sprucing up the Pier 25 mini-golf course with recycled materials.

By Janel Bladow

The colorful flowers are plastic bags. The pretty planters are a playful mosaic of plate and crockery shards. And the 8-foot tall birch tree is fake.

“I go out and troll the streets and find stuff,” says author-artist Maria Reidelbach, project director of the Pier 25 mini golf course restoration. “I found the artificial 8-foot birch tree two blocks from my house and lugged it home.”

Using street finds, recycled plastic bags and broken ceramic bits of discarded dishes, Reidelbach and her collaborator artist Ken Brown hope to renovate the mini-golf course, do something good for the planet and bring the community together, all celebrating the spirit of Earth Day.

“Why recycle? Simply because we don’t have money,” she said. “We have very little funding for the project so it’s a necessity. Both Ken Brown and I are committed to recycling and love making something out of nothing. It’s a magic trick. I love to find magic in unlikely places and things.”

The magic is growing in their garden-themed putt-putt course, from the plastic flowers that will sprout along the fairways to the giant garden gnome who will overlook his fantasy play land.

The mini course, located on the pier at the end of N.Moore St., will have an overall garden theme. “And recycling,” adds Reidelbach, co-author of an Astroturf-covered book, “Miniature Golf”. “So it’s a big green theme.”

Actually she explains, mini-golf courses have long been associated with garden plantings and this will be a tribute to the first mini-golf course built in 1928 at Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, by Frieda Carter. “We’re decorating with the giant garden gnome in homage to Frieda’s first course.”

The gnome, a large-scale topiary will, hopefully, be just one of many topiaries on the course. The lighthouse, another mini-golf course tradition, will actually light up, thanks to power generated by the windmill, also a mini-golf mainstay, a first for a putt-putt play yard, according to Reidelbach.

“We’re getting artificial flowers and greenery donated by event planners and inviting the public to bring down any recyclables they’d love to give away, from plastic bags to cash donations,” she says. “How elaborate the course will be depends on how much community support we get.”

Retailers such as Fishes Eddy (dishware shards) and Janovic Plaza (paint) and Materials for the Arts are kicking in supplies. Bins are on the pier for community donations. This weekend and then again in three weeks, following the Tribeca Film Festival, Reidelbach and Burns will hold public workshops to spruce up the course.

The course, which was built in 1996 and has never been fixed up until now, opens officially to the public Memorial Day weekend. The cost is $3 for adults, $2 for children. It opens weekdays at 11 a.m., weekends at 10 a.m. and closes after dusk.

“Our mini-golf course is a great way for families to enjoy time outside together,” Reidelbach says. “Working on renovating the course, kids slow down, focus and absorb. Adults also slow down, relax with their kids. Hopefully, everyone will be so pleased with what they made, they’ll come back all summer long.”

Pier 25 is a part of the Hudson River Park Trust run by Manhattan Youth (www.manhattanyouth.org)., a non-profit organization for the Downtown community and families.

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