by Laura Palotie
Bryant Park, Manhattan's summer staple, caters a Saturday afternoon especially for young ones.
No, we can't believe it either: The final month of summer has commenced on Manhattan, and the city's diverse roster of low-cost outdoor entertainment is also slowly coming to a close. In case young city dwellers haven't yet taken advantage of Bryant Park's kid-friendly cultural events, this weekend offers two opportunities for interactive fun at the outdoor reading room (look for the cluster of burgundy and white umbrellas behind the Public Library).
At lunchtime, magician JP Laramee will make his third Bryant Park appearance of the summer. Laramee is known for incorporating comedy into his routines, and for working with animals such as doves and rabbits (whether the magical critters will make an appearance on Saturday will depend on weather conditions). Kids of all ages will get a kick out of Laramee's interactive tricks; audience members have a chance to learn the use of a magic wand, recite magic words and serve as wizardly guinea pigs. Especially the coloring book routine, during which kids add pictures and color to a large book just by shouting out commands, is known to put young ones in awe.
Writopia Lab, an organization that brings opportunities for literary inspiration to kids and teens, takes over the reading room after Laramee packs up his gear. Parents and elementary schoolers should register for this workshop in pairs, as both kids and guardians will be asked to engage in reflective writing. Prepare to discuss a meaningful, funny or otherwise poignant experience with your young classmate and translate it onto the page through use of scenes and dialogue. Allow the historical locale and bustling afternoon crowds to set off your imagination.
Fantasma Magic: All ages, Writopia Lab: Ages 8-12. -Fantasma Magic: Sat Aug 4 12-1pm, Writopia Lab Workshop: Sat Aug 4 2:30-4pm. Bryant Park Reading Room, 42nd St and 5th Ave, behind the New York Public Library (212-768-4242, register for the workshop online at bryantpark.org). Subway: B, D, F, V to 42nd St. FREE.