Prospect Park Permits
Planning my son’s fourth birthday party I thought, “wouldn’t it be fun to have cake in the park?” I’d often seen signs near the Picnic House saying, “Birthday” and an arrow pointing toward the party. I figured it would be as simple as emailing parents the time and date to show.
Before the email went out, I went online, curious about birthday party rules in Prospect Park and hoping to secure a table. I could sport the $25 application fee but what would that get me? Only an authorized gathering of 25 people? Would it guarantee a table? What if I count 24 people coming but a few extra siblings show; what are the repercussions?
In the end, the birthday was 20 days out, less than the 30 day application period. I opted for a party in our apartment.
This year, I’m reconsidering a park party as the boys are big and want to play ball. I contacted Ms. Jasmine Hayes at Prospect Park and asked her all my questions. Here is the result:
First, the facts:
- A permit is required for any gathering of 25 or more in all City parks.
- Permits must be secured at least 30 days before the date of the event. Applications for the following year are accepted starting on December 1.
- Permits require a $25 non-refundable processing fee.
- Parties at the Picnic House, Carousel, Boathouse, Lefferts Historic House, and Tennis Center are a separate process and cost more money.
I downloaded the PDF application. Now what?
Q—Must the application must be mailed?
A—The application can be filed ONLINE (preferable), mailed or hand-delivered (here's the permit application) to 95 Prospect Park West (the Litchfield Villa).
Q—How long does the approval process take?
A—Allow two weeks or more; the earlier you file your application, the better!
Q—If my envelope is date-stamped exactly 30 days before the event, when will I find out if my event is approved?
Q—Do I need to specify the area I want to use on my permit? (Near the Picnic House, 9th street entrance?)
Q—Do various areas of the park have proper names? If so, where do I find those names?
A—Use our maps and the interactive map on the web site, http://www.prospectpark.org/visit/interactive_map
Q—Is there a place online I can see which times/days are permitted so I can apply for a free time/place?
A—Not at this time.
Q—Are there time restrictions? i.e. Can I only apply for up to 4 hours?
A—In summer, picnics and parties can get a permit from 6 am until 7 pm (which includes setup and breakdown/cleanup times). In other seasons, the hours are somewhat shorter; picnics and parties must be done one hour before sunset.
Q—Are there areas of the park we can gather without needing a permit?
A—Not if 25 or more people.
Q—Does the permit guarantee a table?
A—No, except for the picnic area just north of the Picnic House.
Q—Does it guarantee a bbq pit?
A—No. You can bring your own grill (non gas or propane) to a designated BBQ area.
Q—Must I bring my permit on the day of the event? If I forget it at home, then what?
A—YES. Don’t leave it at home!
Q—What is the fee for going ahead with an event WITHOUT a permit?
A—Park Officers or the police can issue a ticket (requiring them to answer to a hearing of the NYC Environmental Control Board) for having an event of 25 or more people without a permit. Penalties can be as high as $200.
Today is the big day! What can I bring to the park?
Pizza delivery (although no vehicle can enter the Park)
Kid’s play tent (toddler size only)
Garbage sack to pack out the mess
A few things are best enjoyed at home. Don’t bring:
Glass bottles (although glass isn’t prohibited, it’s recommended to bring something unbreakable.)
Canopy to block the sun
Favors that break into millions of little pieces, leaving miniscule trash all over
Styrofoam, which is bad for wildlife
No one likes a litter bug!
Remember to bring in an empty trash bag so you can take your garbage with you, leaving the park nicer than when you arrived.