One of my favorite parts of Central Park is The Mall, a long stretch of gnarled trees that begins at Bethesda Fountain and is guaranteed to be full of musicians, dancers and random performers. On Sunday, Sue, Amy and I encountered a group of New Yorkers and tourists gathered around a childhood favorite: giant bubbles.
Several people stood in the center of the crowd, dipping sticks tied with rope into buckets of soapy water, then holding them up in the air. A German tourist laughed as a 10-foot bubble emerged from her rope, snaking through the crowd before it exploded. A girl in the back of the crowd, wearing a light purple coat and clutching a red balloon, laughed as well. She handed her mom the balloon’s string and made her way to the front.
The girl dunked the sticks into the bucket and threw her hands over her head. The first bubble popped immediately — a dud. The second bubble began to expand, floating out of the makeshift wand and toward the crowd. A photographer squatted down to get a better angle, aiming his lens at the sky and the bubble overhead. Suddenly, the bubble popped, covering his face and lens in soap. He began to swear but caught himself, glancing at the nearby kids.
An old man in a bright pink hat stepped from behind him to take his turn, using a practiced hand to create the biggest and most complex bubble yet.
In the background, a young man in purple spandex and a red bandana leaned against the fence, smiling as he finished a street-cart hot dog. Next to him sat a hand cart filled with jugs of soap and extra sticks, but I didn’t see a tip jar anywhere.