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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pope is More Like It

Yesterday, the Central Park Conservancy dedicated the path around the reservoir to Alberto Arroyo -- aka, the Mayor of Central Park -- who died on March 25th. Arroyo claimed to be -- and was lauded as -- the first person to run around the reservoir. He made his first loops around what was then a maintenance path in 1937, after being kicked off the bridle path for disturbing the horses.

Arroyo was both beloved Central Park runner and a champion New Yorker. In 2001, he beat out Ed Koch, George Plimpton, and even Dr. Zizmor (!) for the cover of this book called New York Characters. I love this quip from a 2005 NYT article on his view of the afterlife: "You just go from one apartment to another." Only in New York, right kids?

For many years -- and well into artificial-part-age -- Arroyo ran the 1.6 mile loop up to ten times daily. By his own he count, he figured that he'd run around the reservoir more than 200,000 times -- more than enough to bring him from here to the moon.

Arroyo was known as the mayor of Central Park, a self-proclaimed title that not even greedy Giuliani could get his grubby mitts on. I have to say, though, this guys sounds less like a democratically elected official than divine leader of Her Lady of the Urban Joggers. No offense, Jackie O., but this guy ran circles (sorry! couldn't resist the pun!) around your eponymous reservoir. He hung out at the reservoir yelling "looking good" to runners as they made their way around the path. He let the Parks Department know when something needed fixing. Though he himself took a vow of poverty and lived on a single meal a day, he managed to raise $100,000 for an organization that helps disabled runners.

And he gave footrubs to runners he met in the park. The guy was totally running Jesus.

Let me end with noting -- should there be any unbelievers among us -- Mr. Arroyo lived until the age of 94.

Can I get an Amen?

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