Who needs two wheels when one is all you need for a good time?
The New York City Unicycle Festival returned this Labor Day weekend for the 14th consecutive year with four days of one-wheel madness throughout Gotham.
Part of the festival was an over 13-mile-long, 3-hour trek from Manhattan to Coney Island, Brooklyn, on Friday, Sept. 1. About 15 unicyclists gathered at City Hall Park before rolling across the Brooklyn Bridge through downtown Brooklyn to Prospect Park and then gliding down Ocean Parkway to Brooklyn’s famous beach and amusement park.
The festival had kicked off on Aug. 31 with a ride from Battery Park to Central Park. The third installment of the event was a Saturday afternoon filled with activities like mountain unicycle, unicycle lessons, and unicycle basketball at Seven Gables Playground and Cunningham Park, Queens, on Sept. 2. The event ends Sunday with a “casual day of rolling” at the Grants Tomb in Manhattan on Sept. 3.
The popular one-wheeled event is produced by the Brooklyn-based Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, and this year’s festival was made possible, in part, through the support of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts.
Keith Nelson, co-founder of Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, said the idea of the festival was born 15 years ago when he shared his New Year’s resolution in a New York Times story, envisioning safer and better unicycle lanes in the city. Governors Island staff contacted Nelson and asked if he was interested in producing a unicycle festival. At the same time, Nelson was on a mission to cross New York City’s bridges with his one-wheeler.
“So [the festival] pretty much grew out of Governors Island reaching out and then our mission to ride bridges,” Nelson said. “So it instantly became two days on Governors Island, and, at that point, just one day of the Brooklyn unicycle ride, which is what we’re doing today. So [the festival] always included at least one long-distance ride and then a day or two of learning to ride.”
Friday’s fun ride ended at Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs with a free beer, hot dogs, and tickets to Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park.
“So it’s like a one wheel to the Wonder Wheel kind of idea,” Nelson said.
Leif Hosking and Dee Smyth from Syndey, Australia, were in town for a regatta and changed their flight plans just for the festival, which they found out about via Facebook.
“We thought we can’t miss that. So we came three days early to be able to do this,” Hosking said.
Hosking got into unicycling about 20 years ago after he saw a video of Canadian Kris Holm, famous for riding a unicycle in off-road conditions, and thought, “That’s nuts. I want to do it.”
His partner Dee Smyth, who stuck to a Citi Bike for the ride, said the event was a great way to connect with…