4:23 pm Jan. 6, 2012
Standing under Rockefeller Center’s famous 74-foot-tall Norway spruce with city parks commissioner Adrian Benepe and city sanitation commissioner John Doherty, Mayor Michael Bloomberg fed remnants of less fortunate Christmas trees into a parks department mulcher.
Then he talked a little about the holiday season to a small crowd of media and tourists.
“I’ve been to the ‘world’s tallest menorah’ in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, then another ‘world’s tallest menorah’ in Central Park,” said Bloomberg. “We have two tallest menorahs. That’s in the Talmud some place or other. We were at something for Kwanzaa at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. And then, of course, New Year’s Eve, Times Square, with Lady Gaga. Eat your heart out, guys.”
The crowd laughed.
He downplayed the kiss.
“I kiss a million people, but that young lady had the opportunity to kiss me, I’m sure it was a memorable thing for her,” he said.
Bloomberg mentioned his previous event that morning, a Three Kings Day celebration uptown.
“And now MulchFest,” the mayor said. “It can’t be better than this.”
MulchFest is the festive name for a dry but useful annual effort to recycle old Christmas trees. This weekend, the city will set up more than 70 sites at which people can mulch their old trees and wreaths. The parks department uses the mulch from destroyed trees to grow new ones.
“I’m joined by our transportation commissioner John Doherty and our parks commissioner …” Bloomberg said, briefly appearing to blank on the name. “Adrian Benepe. He’s been around a long time.”
Later, Bloomberg reminded the crowd his days were numbered.
“I will get only one more chance to do MulchFest next year,” he said. “After that, somebody else won’t want me around.”
He left the plaza and, before getting into his SUV, spoke with some tourists walking on 50th Street.
One of them was Kevin Spencer, a Virginia-based magician who was in New York for a performing-arts conference. He told me he had and the mayor had talked about memory and magic.
“He was like, ‘Do you know Harry Lorayne?’” Spencer said. “I was like, ‘Yeah.’ He goes, ‘Oh, I read his book all the time on how to improve your memory.' I said, ‘Does it work?’ And he says, ‘Well, I think it does.’”
He said Bloomberg asked about a good book on magic for the layperson. Spencer recommended Jim Steinmeyer’s history of magicians, “Hiding the Elephant.”
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