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The People Park

Lainey visits Manhattan.

My daughter Lainey is 5 years old, and I love her. recently drove into and explored Central Park.

“This is awesome!” Lainey exclaimed as she climbed over gigantic rock formations under a skyscraper backdrop.

We dodged joggers, cyclists and , and walked to The Mall, where a rollerblader in a string-bikini practiced an over-the-top figure skating routine. Soon, two more sweaty bladers joined in her theatrics.

“It’s the crazy rollerblader club!” Lainey laughed.

At the beautiful Bethesda Fountain, we discovered a model in a tight blue dress doing a professional . Nearby, a homeless man paraded as a wizard. Or was it a wizard disguised as a homeless man? Lainey wondered.

Along the park perimeter we saw several mimes. Some were painted head-to-toe in gold or silver. Others dressed as the Statue of Liberty, stood on milk crates and asked $2 per photo. Lainey walked by unimpressed.

“Two dollars for a picture,” she scoffed.

We also met Mike, our hotel doorman, who pointed us toward some great local pizza. Our carriage driver, Luis (led by his Amish horse, Sylvia) bragged about his celebrity encounters. And in Sheep's Meadow, the infamous Mojito Man served Lainey a virgin daiquiri from the battery-powered blender in his backpack.

But we encountered the most memorable person outside the Central Park Zoo. A peddler dressed as Elmo wore a denim purse over his shoulder—our first clue that this was not the genuine article.

“A purse?” Lainey laughed. “What? Elmo is a boy!”

Then Lainey pointed out a large hole in the costume, exposing the man’s entire ankle.

“It’s an imposter!” I grinned.

One family snapped a picture of Fake Elmo and left without tipping.

“Excuse me! Can I have a tip, please?” Fake Elmo yelled.

“That wasn’t Elmo’s voice!” I said.

Lainey added, “And Elmo would say, ‘Can Elmo have a tip!’ Not I.”

Later that day we saw Fake Elmo once more, standing at the entrance to the petting zoo—with his costume head resting on the floor!

“Oh my goodness!” Lainey exclaimed.

Thankfully Lainey already knew Elmo was a fake. Other kids, however, seemed very confused.

With so many people in New York, there’s bound to be some nuts. That’s why the people may be the greatest attraction in the city. We had a wonderful , and can’t wait to return.

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