Fall foliage has peaked in New York City’s Central Park, and as usual, it’s magnificent. Yesterday was Jazz and Colors, my favorite Central Park event in which 30 jazz ensembles play the same set in different locations all over the park for the whole afternoon. Last year, I brought an almost two-year-old who was sort of mesmerized by the music and willing to sit in his stroller and listen for about 20 minutes, an eternity for a toddler. This year, I brought an almost three-year-old who heard the music as soon we entered, was happy to help me find it (“I think it’s this way!”) and then announced he wanted to go to the playground after only two minutes of taking in the superb free jazz. But I had something different in mind: a visit to The Bubble Man, whom we had passed on the way in holding court at the East 85th Street Entrance.
The Bubble Man, aka Stephen Duncan, makes huge bubbles using a loop of rope weighted down by lock, and connected to two sticks. He won’t give away his secret bubble juice recipe, but he says that he uses Joy. I assume that he means the detergent Joy, and it’s just so perfect because his bubbles bring joy to kids and adults alike. While the 80s seem to be The Bubble Man’s domain (I’ve seen him outside the Met too), you can sometimes find him by Bethesda Fountain. Wherever he goes, he draws a crowd. It’s not just his huge bubbles that draw them in, but it’s the excitement that he brings to each bubble. This is not just a job — The Bubble Man is also eagerly anticipating the next great bubble. And the kids know that you do not try to pop one of giant bubbles. Although it’s OK to do that for smaller ones, which he sometimes makes just for the kids to pop. If anything, the huge bubbles can be a little scary.
Aside from his love of bubbles, I knew very little about Stephen until I found this video and article Sarah Kwuwaja, which she made has as a CUNY journalism student a few months ago. Watch this to learn more about the man behind the big bubbles… And if you’re visiting NYC with kids, be sure to seek out one of the best Central Park entertainers!