Win SkyMall products at the NYC Southwest Porch

Always wanted some of the SkyMall products that we profile every week in SkyMall Monday? Would you like to win some of those products? This Thursday, November 17, SkyMall is holding an event at the Southwest Porch in New York’s Bryant Park. From 6pm to 8pm, representatives from our favorite catalog will be giving guests chances to win Garden Yetis, marshmallow shooters, the famous SkyRest Travel Pillow, SkyMall gift cards and Southwest Airlines tickets. Admission is free and you might even see me there checking out the scene. We’ve attended similar events and they’re always a good time.

Garden Yetis and marshmallow shooters need good homes. This is your chance to help out a SkyMall product in need. Also, the Southwest Porch has beer!

Citi Pond at Bryant Park in New York officially opens for the season

On Friday, October 28, 2011, Citi Pond at Bryant Park celebrated it’s 7th season grand opening, featuring Manhattan‘s only free-admission ice skating rink, the Holiday Shops, and Celsius Restaurant Lounge & Event Space. The grand opening event included Broadway musical performances like “Sister Act” and “Rock of Ages” and live drum line numbers by Hillside Elementary School’s “Drums of Thunder”. Professional ice skating routines were the highlight of the event, as performers included:

  • The Haydenettes- the U.S. National synchronized skating champions
  • Kimmie Meissner- a former World and U.S. National Champion Figure Skater
  • Isabella Tobias and Deividas Stagniünas, two figure skaters representing Lithuania

After the performances, the public was allowed to go on to the ice to skate for the first time this season. Media representatives were taken to preview the Columbia Freezer Tour, which will take place from October 29-November 29, 2011. Participants put on a Columbia coat and go into a freezer (yes, a freezer!) to sing karaoke while being videotaped and photographed. The idea is to show the public how warm the jackets really are. While they certainly keep your upper body very warm, remember to bring socks and gloves, as the rest of your body will still be chilly.

The Holiday Shops in Bryant Park, New York, open this weekend

The Holiday Shops in Bryant Park bring holiday cheer to New York City for their 10th season beginning this weekend. From October 27, 2011, through January 8, 2012, visitors can experience this European-inspired open-air market that features artisans selling unique gifts, handicrafts, jewelry, bath and body products, toys, culinary enhancements, and more. An ice skating rink, a giant Christmas tree, and booths selling holiday pastries and hot chocolate add to the merry ambiance.

Some of the vendors (but, not even close to all of them) include:

  • Molton Brown- luxury bath, body, and hair products
  • Max Brenner- unique and fine chocolates by “the bald man”
  • Ooh La La Boutiques- women’s fashion, accessories, and jewelry
  • Momo Glassworks- glass canvas paintings and jewelry
  • Northern Tribe New York- women/men’s fashion and gifts
  • Organic Wares- products such as scarves and string lights made of organic materials

The Holiday Shops are open daily, Monday-Friday 11AM-8PM, Saturday 10AM-9PM, Sunday 10AM-6PM.

Southwest & SkyMall Bring Yetis & Slankets to New York City

The Southwest Porch in Bryant park has been around this the summer and has provided locals are tourists strolling through that Midtown greens space a place to relax, have a drink and grab a snack inspired by the cities that the airline services. But for three days this week, Southwest has invited Gadling’s favorite catalog, SkyMall, to join the party. With Slankets featured on the cover of the Southwest edition of the catalog, SkyMall made sure to bring plenty of the blanket/robe hybrids to keep guests warm and give away to some lucky attendees. And, one of the catalog’s most popular character’s, the Garden Yeti, was there in a Slanket all his own.

Not being able to resist anything SkyMall-related, I attended the opening night of the event and spoke with SkyMall’s VP of Airline Marketing, Casey Christ. He said that the partnership with Southwest was “natural and helps us connect with our fans outside of the flying experience.” Throughout the evening, attendees who entered the free raffle won Slankets. And one very lucky winner took home her own Garden Yeti.

And where does one find a Slanket that fits 28″ tall Garden Yeti? Well, Mr. Christ took a full-sized Slanket to his local tailor in Phoenix – along with the Garden Yeti – and asked her to make the proper alterations. I salute that talented woman, who I assume remains quite confused.

SkyMall will be joining Southwest at the Southwest Porch today and tomorrow to give away more Slankets and Garden Yetis. If you’d like to join them, be sure to RSVP in advance. The Southwest Porch will be open for snacks, drinks and lounging by their fire pit into January, when they will shut down until New York warms up again.


Six ways to enjoy Madison Square Park

Manhattan has a lot of great parks – but a handful tends to hog all the attention. Central Park is what it is; there’s just now way to compare it to anything else. Bryant Park has live performances and exhibitions (not to mention a starring role in Fashion Week) and is only a block from Times Square. And, there are others that would come to mind before you work your way down the list to one of my favorite open spaces in the city: Madison Square Park.

Don’t be misled – this park is nowhere near the “garden” of the same name. It sits between East 23d Street and East 26th Street and between Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue, in a small pocket of New York that most visitors tend to skip. So, catch the R or W train to the East 23d Street stop, and get ready to enjoy Madison Square Park in six different ways.

1. Take care of two buildings at once
The uniquely shaped Flatiron Building is right across the intersection from the southwest corner of the park, where Fifth Avenue and Broadway meet. What you may not realize, though, is that the northwest corner of the park (East 26th Street and Fifth Avenue) provides a great view of the Empire State Building. Crowds tend to form, for some reason, during morning rush hour (which sucks for the locals). Also, avoid lunch hour and evenings, as people who work nearby will get in the way of your shot.


2. Watch some television – live
It’s not unusual to find camera crews in and around Madison Square Park. Plenty of shows shot in New York use the space. So, while you wander through, you may be lucky enough to bump into one of your faves.

3. Go to the bathroom
If you aren’t fortunate enough to spot a celeb, drink some water. This will have the predictable effect and send you to one of only a handful of self-cleaning public toilets in the New York City. It’s on the southeast corner of Madison Square Park, and a quarter buys you 15 minutes. That should be plenty of time to take interior photos of the device that guest-starred on CSI:NY.

4. Enjoy some art
There’s always a public art display of some kind in Madison Square Park. Right now, it’s Markers, an installation by Mel Kendrick, a Boston-born artist who’s now a resident of New York. This project consists of five pieces reflect the “rippling surfaces contain the fossil memory of the actions taken over time.” Like almost all the public art in Madison Square Park, Kendrick’s installation is definitely worth a look.

5. Grab a bite
Sure, it’s tempting to head over to the storied Shake Shack in the southeast corner of Madison Square Park (near the toilet/TV star/murderer). But, if you’re looking for a substantial, enjoyable sit-down meal, go up to Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse, a few blocks north on East 28th Street and Fifth Avenue. Definitely make the ribeye your meal (it was amazing), but you’d be nuts not to start with the seafood platter. Take your time, and rest your feet for a bit, especially if you’ve been wandering around the city all day. The staff is attentive and accommodating, and they will not rush you. This is a great alternative to the long waits and hope-you-can-pull-it-off reservation situations at the steakhouses in mid-town. And, the dark-wooded interior drives home the insider feel that makes any steak dinner in Manhattan complete.

6. Grab a cigar (for those inclined)
For many, the only way to finish a hefty steak dinner is with a cigar. Go local with a stick from Martinez Cigars, a few blocks away on West 29th Street and Seventh Ave. Grab a maduro, and go back to the park (while you can still smoke there). If nobody’s around, chill for a bit on the new pedestrian area just west of Madison Square Park.