Helicopters ruining NYC’s Shakespeare in the Park

Photo credit: rebecca marks licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, and Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition

On earlier blogs, I had written about the efforts of several New York City Congresspersons and the organization working with them, namely Stop the Chop, to limit nonessential helicopters from flying over New York City. Now we learn from this article by Dean Balsamini in the NY Post how these non-essential helicopters and their noise are “ruining the experience for theater-goers in Shakespeare in the Park.”

Stop the Chop member Melissa Elstein, who was attending the opening night offering at Shakespeare in the Park, told the NY Post that “she counted six low-flying helicopters on opening night at the 1,800-seat venue July 7.” Another theater attendee called the clamor of the helicopter “a slap in the face.” He said the noise drowned out the “emotional remarks from the stage about finally performing in front of a live audience and thanking essential workers.”

One can readily understand how disturbing the helicopter noise was to the individuals who were celebrating a return to the park after this difficult pandemic year. By contrast, a query to the Federal Aviation Administration yielded a response that the agency “has not received any recent formal inquiries regarding helicopters (sic) operations over the Shakespeare in the Park performances.” Congressman Jerrold Nadler was quick to respond that this response “is nothing more than a fallacy.”

Balsamini concludes his piece by stating that “[p]erhaps the noise produced by low-flying helicopters has interfered with the FAA’s capacity to hear and recognize the frustration felt by countless New Yorkers.”

The many New Yorkers who have complained about aircraft noise and helicopter noise to the FAA for many years would certainly say “Amen” to that statement.


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