Bryant Park Ping Pong Tables Provide Fun Way to Be Outdoors During Pandemic

New York 1
March 30, 2021
Rocco Vertuccio

For diehards like Frank Smith, there is no other game like ping pong.

“It’s an enjoyable game. For old people, just as well as young people,” said Smith.

And no better place to play than outdoors in Bryant Park.

“It’s a way to get out from being home and to burn your calories if you want to do that and enjoy the weather as well when it permits,” Smith said.

Smith has been playing ping pong on-and-off pretty much his whole life.

Now that he is semi-retired, he plays in Bryant Park several times a week. He's one of the many regulars here.

“We’re like a family. Just like a big family out here in Bryant Park,” said Smith.

This is where life-long friendships are made.

“It’s a lot of fun, we have a lot of fun, you get along with people. That’s how most of these people met each other, said another ping pong regular at Bryant Park, Phil Bergerson.

The park has two ping pong tables, open year-round for free. They've been here about ten years. Because of the pandemic, they seem to be more popular with New Yorkers looking for something to do outdoors.

“Ping pong is one of the reasons people can come to the park. We believe the more people that are here, the better place Bryant Park is, the happier, safer, it is, so ping pong is yet another reason people can come out,” said Bryant Park’s Vice President of Operations Kati Solomon.

Ping pong may not be the first sport that comes to mind for aerobic exercise, but those who play on a regular basis say they do work up a sweat.

“It’s my form of exercise. You move every part of your body. Everything, “ said ping pong player Ella Yang.

Even though some of the games do get a bit intense, for the regulars here, who wins or loses is really not that important.

"It’s a matter of having fun. That’s the whole idea out here — is to have fun, enjoy the sport, and like I said, meeting people it’s all part of the equation,” said Smith.