In Central Park, Juno Was a Lot of Fun

It was touted as an historic storm, one that would cause New York to come to a standstill. But, when Juno arrived in the city, it was neither historic nor paralyzing. Juno’s sojourn in midtown Manhattan lasted all of 56 seconds, according to a time lapse video online. While the National Weather Service admitted to having gotten it badly wrong, politicians maintained that it was better to be safe than sorry.

But a lot of New Yorkers, meanwhile, thought it best to be merry. Central Park, which registered 9.8 inches of snow, provided the ideal landscape for people who found themselves with an unexpected day off. Here’s how some of them decided to spend it:

Near the Dalehead Arch in Central Park, Rachel Neville, a dance and fitness photographer based in Long Island City, decided to do something outrageous. She photographed a group of ballet dancers, dressed in their costumes, in Central Park. “Are we crazy or what?’ said Neville. “I just posted a message on Facebook asking them to come out today, and here we are.”

The dancers took turns posing, as they divested themselves of their jackets and traded warm snow boots for flimsy ballet shoes. As she screamed instructions, Neville didn’t completely throw caution to the wind. “It’s windy guys, this is what’s gonna kill you,” she told the dancers.

Daniel Salas, 21, who is part of the Second Company of Ballet Hispanico, volunteered to pose by the frozen lake and did it shirtless and barefoot, no less. He stepped out to loud cheers and applause from the group, as Rachel shouted instructions. “Just give me crazy shapes. It’s gonna be, like, 30 seconds, because its brutal out there.”

Neville is going to share the photos with her community. “It’s not something commercially viable for me, it’s more like, ‘let’s go out and have some fun.’”

Originally from Canada, Neville has seen worse winters and braved below freezing temperatures. “It’s a half winter here. They freak out a bit more than we would,” she said. “It’s also a political thing right? They have to tell you the worst case scenario, so that they don’t get caught with their pants down.”

“I can’t feel my hands,” said Salas.

Anthony Elezovic and James Collins, meanwhile, were strapping their colorful snowboards atop the stairs that lead to the Bethesda fountain. A group of curious onlookers gathered with mobile phones and cameras in hand to record the 16-year-olds in action.

“I was really happy and expecting 18 to 24 inches of snow, but we were bummed out when we came here, because it didn’t really snow very much,” said Elezovic. “It’s not bad, but it’s not enough.”

“Whenever it snows, we go out snowboarding, otherwise we don’t get a chance to do it often,” Collins said. Collins took many a spill on the stairs, but showed no signs of stopping all day. He summed it all up: “Despite everything else, James Collins and Anthony Elezovic had a great day at the park.”

Inside the snow-covered Bethesda fountain, a group of students from Kings College were alternating between waltzing to music and having snowball fights. Clara Trombitas, 20, said the storm had been a letdown. Still, she was happy to have had a day off. Did she heed the warnings? “Not really. I had decided to come out anyways,” she replied.

Emily Reinhardt, 18, who is from California, was having her first snow experience. “I built a snowman earlier near the entrance. It was so much fun!” she said. “We expected it to be a lot worse, and they overhyped the blizzard,” she said, but added, “For me, it’s been just great.”

Luke Sullivan, 19, took the storm warnings seriously. “I thought we were gonna, like, die or something. They were shutting down the subways and roads, so I thought that the snow would be up to my waist,” he said.

“It’s kinda cold and wet,” Sullivan added,  “but I’m from California, so everything’s cold.”

Near the south end of Central Park, Gaby Gonzalez, 41, was seating her six-year-old son, Isaac, on a sled. “Criss-cross applesauce, remember?” She said, and pushed him down the slope. She applauded when he made it all the way down, avoiding fellow sledders and trees.

Gonzalez, who witnessed Sandy in 2012, said she was bracing herself for the worst, especially due to the ominous warnings. But all that changed on Tuesday morning. “I went to my soul cycle class in the morning and decided it was not as bad, so I brought my kids to the park,” she said. Like most New Yorkers, she is not complaining about Juno’s mild manners. “It turned out to be a perfect day, a perfect excuse to be out with my kids and enjoy the snow,” she said.