More Than a Wheel

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As a new dawn broke, the second annual New York Unicycle Festival was about to occur on the tranquil streets of Brooklyn. Taking place this past Friday, Sept. 2nd, unicyclists from around the city and the country mustered together at City Hall next to the Brooklyn Bridge. “Riding unicycles,” says Stephanie Nelson, co-founder of New York’s Unicycle Festival, “is a fun, healthy activity for everyone.”

Sponsored by the New York Unicycle Club, BindleStiff Family Cirkus, Governors Island and the Unicycle New York Bridge Tour, the festival culminates into three days of fun and excitement. On the first day, unicyclists ride for 13 miles through Brooklyn to Coney Island, celebrating their beloved sport; on the second day, an exhibition day is held on Governors Island where visitors can learn how to ride a unicycle and watch a unicycle basketball game against the Puerto Rican national team; and, on the third day, the New York Unicycle Club hosts a meeting at its traditional gathering place at Grant’s Tomb.

Expecting about one hundred riders, the festival has grown from the original 50 that rode over the Brooklyn Bridge last year. When the festival was first founded, Keith Nelson, the co-founder of the festival, was contacted by Governors Island to find a way to introduce the world of unicycles to the general populace. Unicycles definitely stand for more than just riding on one wheel. Thus, last year, the festival was founded, attracting people from all around the country to New York City.

Riders from kids to adults and unicycles of all sorts and sizes made their way gallantly across the Brooklyn Bridge and onwards to Coney Island. From a unicycle decorated like a pony to one equipped with the latest in computers and cameras, each rider had an undying passion for riding their unicycles.

 

Andrew Haggerty, a unicyclist from the Bronx, described how his brother first became passionate about unicycles, which spread to his parents and eventually Andrew and his sister. Traveling across the country, Bob and Trish Evans, expert jugglers and performers, love sharing such a unique sport with one another. Fathers and sons, husband and wives, brothers and sisters, next door neighbors and best friends—this is a community experience, allowing everyone to share together in something they love. Robert Pichickmon, founder of Unicycle New York Bridge Tour, said, “Riding a unicycle is magical and exhilarating.”

When asked what he hopes the reactions would be to the festival, co-founder Keith Nelson happily said he hopes people smile and realize how nice it is to be in this city. As each rider mounted his or her noble unicycle, the 13-mile trek began, passionately sharing with the world something they each value. For about three hours, unicyclists rode through the city going by Prospect Park and eventually reaching Coney Island where the night was ended with a ride on the Wonder Wheel ferris wheel, Nathan’s hot dogs and fireworks on the beach.

CityDaniel Poeana