NYU students spend many an afternoon in Washington Square Park. Whether just walking to their next class or grabbing lunch with a friend, frequenters of the park begin to recognize the same faces of the community under the arch. Here are some of the most influential people around the square.
1. Piano Man
Weekends studying or having a picnic in Washington Square Park would not be complete without the harmonious sounds of a baby grand piano. Since the summer of 2007, self-proclaimed Crazy Piano Guy Colin Huggins, has been setting up his instrument almost every Saturday and Sunday to play famous classical pieces. He has also released his own classical album, including improvised pieces from the park and subway stations, as well as etudes from Rachmaninoff and Chopin.
2. Tic and Tac
Kareem and Tyheem Barnes, also known as Tic and Tac, are known for their entertaining performances in Washington Square Park. Their style is a mix of flips, acrobatics, breakdancing and stand-up comedy. The twins have been working on their dance moves since they were just 6 years old. By age 10, they started performing on their own and even became third-quarter showmen for the Harlem Globetrotters. Most Saturdays you can catch Tic and Tac performing at one of their three to four shows.
3. Pigeon Men
Larry and Paul, each independently dubbed a Pigeon Man, give a new face to this typically avoided bird. The pigeon men can be found on park benches, usually covered in pigeons. Onlookers will feel either a strange sense of calmness from seeing an unlikely bond with nature, or just feel extremely uncomfortable.
4. Saxophone Player
Nothing makes you fall into an upbeat New York walk like the soulful tunes pouring out from one of Washington Square Park’s saxophone players, Dusty Rhodes. His beautiful tone has been formed from years of work — he began with flute at the age of 9 and then continued learning with clarinet, bass clarinet and saxophone. If you happen to be in the park in the morning, you may have the chance to listen to Rhodes perform by the Garibaldi statue.
5. Doris the Activist
Doris Diether, often found near the puppeteer Ricky Syers, has been a longtime friend and activist in the park. She speaks with a quiet, elderly voice but shows off a huge smile when she talks. When New York City was considering banning musicians and performers in the park, Doris was one of the main protesters and ultimately helped keep the ban from taking effect.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Sept. 11 print edition. Email Hannah Treasure at [email protected]