Central Park's Tel Aviv 'beach party'

Artificial beach will show New Yorkers lighter side of Israel's metropolis.

huldai bloomberg 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
huldai bloomberg 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Like MasterCard's famous tagline - "There are some things money can't buy" - the organizers of a celebration marking Tel Aviv's centennial in New York City say their event will be priceless. On June 21, they plan to build an artificial beachfront in Central Park, complete with games and musical performances, to show New Yorkers the lighter side of the Israel metropolis. Of course, it does have a price tag - about $200,000. Sponsored by the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Centennial Administration, the Foreign and Tourism ministries, and corporate partner El Al Israel Airways, the event is part of a massive global celebration of Tel Aviv's 100th birthday. The New York beach will be one of three artificial beaches, with the others in Vienna (from April 28 to September 1) and Copenhagen (from July 25 to August 2). Additional parties celebrating the centennial are taking place in cities such as Los Angeles, Paris and Brussels. The installation is being designed to recreate the Tel Aviv beachfront, complete with food, backgammon and matkot (paddleball). "We're talking about a global campaign that has many different manifestations," said Eytan Schwartz, a spokesman for the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Centennial Administration. To be sure, the global recession has forced officials to curtail the budget of the centennial celebration in general, which includes the beach installations, educational events, parties and more. Originally close to NIS 100 million, the centennial administration's final budget is now NIS 44m., to be spent over two years. Still, creating a beach in Manhattan will be no small, or inexpensive, feat. Plans for the beach itself - 15 meters by 15 meters and 1.2 meters deep - call for 30 tons of sand, to be brought in by a local vendor. Organizers also had to address the concerns of environmentalists and obtain permits from New York City's Department of Parks and Recreation. On a recent trip to the US, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai defended the cost of the Central Park beach, which will be open for only one day. "We are very sensitive to every penny we're spending," he told The Jerusalem Post during his visit to New York, where the recession has taken a toll. "Look, we are suffering the same challenges," he said. But, he noted, "If tourists are going to come to Israel, it will cover the project tenfold." The event underscores another theme behind the centennial. "There is another Israel, not only wars and crisis," Huldai said, touting his city's nightlife and culture. "We are still living." The one-day event, which is free to the public, will start at 11 a.m. and finish at 6 p.m. At noon, DJ Hadar Marks will host a beach party and Israeli reggae band Hatikva 6 and rock band Flow will perform. The event is an opportunity to portray an Israel many people in America are not familiar with. "The idea to have this event in the park is to bring the atmosphere in Tel Aviv to New York," said David Saranga, the consul for media and public affairs at the Consulate General in New York. Saranga underscored the importance of tourism to Tel Aviv, and noted that the war in Gaza deflated interest in the city this winter. "Tel Aviv is one of the important engines of Israel's brand name and we hope that this event in Central Park, along with other efforts, will enhance Israel's well-deserved image," he said.