NYC with Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
by Lauren (Maine)
New York City Street Show Entertainers
This past June, my best friend and I set off on an adventure from Maine with three of our favorite people, who happen to have developmental disabilities. I know the typical tourist itinerary can be a bit boring, but for our group, visiting New York City’s most well know attractions was definitely a highlight in these people’s lives! Picture the average NYC tourist’s experience, and then factor in moving at a turtle’s pace in one of the world’s fastest paced cities. Elevators, escalators, subways, and walking in large crowds were all experiences in and of themselves!
We loaded into a minivan and drove seven hours to our hotel. We stayed at the New York Marriott at Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn Heights. We loved the hotel! Brooklyn was a great place to come home to at the end of the day. We parked our van in the garage and used taxis and the subway to get around. That night, we hit a local BBQ joint near the hotel that had amazing food and great cultural atmosphere. Michael Jackson had just passed away and there were traces of him everywhere. His music was being played on the street corner.
The next morning we ate in the hotel restaurant, which was also excellent. We enjoyed fresh juice, good coffee, and a great selection of American breakfast food. We took a taxi to the Museum of Natural History to explore for a few hours. My group was in awe of the dinosaurs! After lunch at the Museum, we took the subway to Times Square to see Mary Poppins. My group shed tears of happiness at the climax of the show. After Mary Poppins we walked several blocks to a restaurant called The Eatery (on 53rd and 9th Ave). This was my favorite meal while in the city. The restaurant was small, contemporary, and not too loud. I had tequila marinated shrimp layered over flautas and a bed of mashed sweet potatoes. I have thought of that meal on several occasions since. The restaurant also had great burgers for my group, who would choose a hamburger at every meal (they have no sense of gourmet taste!) We also had incredible desserts!
On our second day of sightseeing we took the subway to Battery Park. We stopped for a quick breakfast at Starbucks and went on the ferry boat to the Statue of Liberty. After the tour, we came upon a street show of three guys in red suits who were jumping over lines of people. They were very entertaining and took two of the ladies I was with and incorporated them into the show. We stayed after the crowd had cleared to visit with the men and got a great picture. We ate lunch at TGI Fridays (would not recommend it) and took the subway back to our hotel. We headed back out to the subway and took quite a ride out to Coney Island. We visited the Aquarium, had ice cream on the board walk and decided we were done for the day. We couldn’t fathom going back out to find a restaurant so we asked for take-out menus at the front desk of the hotel. Some of us ordered pizza and others ordered Chinese. It was fun to hang out in the hotel room and eat and relax for awhile. We ventured down to sit in the hot tub before turning in for the night.
It was a short trip, so we were loading back into the van the next morning to travel back to Maine. We did have one last adventure trying to use our GPS system to find a gas station. We took a wrong turn and ended up in Manhattan. The GPS system kept sending us to gas stations that were no longer gas stations. Finally, on our fourth try we were on the road. My group talked about all of the amazing things they saw the whole way home. Mary Poppins was definitely a favorite experience. Using the subway was the biggest challenge for our group, due to the need to get on and off quickly. People in New York City were generally very courteous to my fellow travelers. There were a few impatient people I wish could have looked outside of themselves to understand that not every human is in a hurry or is even capable of hurrying!
Overall it was a wonderful experience that we would all love to do again!
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