BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Countless numbers of people enjoy fun and healthy activities in Hudson River Park each and every day. But how many of them get to do it with an A-lister — all the while supporting the park financially?
Now, the Friends of Hudson River Park is offering a chance to do just that through its “The HRPK Experience Auction.” New Yorkers can bid to play tennis with Denis Leary on the Canal St. courts, go on a nature walk through the waterfront park with Martha Stewart while getting gardening tips or take a sailboat ride with Brooke Shields.
Also on the block are stand-up paddleboarding with “Glee”’s Darren Criss, driving golf balls at Chelsea Piers with Momofuku’s David Chang, trapeze at Pier 40 with interior designer Nate Berkus and mini-golf on Tribeca’s Pier 25 with realtor Fredrik Eklund of “Million Dollar Listing New York” fame. Each of the boldface names is a friend of the park and lives in the area, except for Criss, who is California-based but offered to help out.
Friends of Hudson River Park is teaming up with Charitybuzz, the luxury charity auction site, for the effort.
Bidding is online at www.Charitybuzz.com/HRPK and ongoing through Thurs., May 22, when the auction, which started two weeks ago, will conclude.
The tennis with Leary will actually be doubles, so the winning bidder can bring along two friends — or three people can go in on the bid together. Similarly, the sailing with Shields is a “plus two” — the winning bid is good for up to three people to accompany the “Suddenly Susan” star out on the bounding main. There will also be a sailing-school employee aboard to help out.
Likewise, the walk-and-talk with Stewart and putt-putt golf with Eklund are both good for three people.
Friends of Hudson River Park is the private fundraising vehicle for the 5-mile-long park, which is supposed to be financially self-sustaining and has seen its government funding basically dry up in recent years.
“We wanted to offer something that you could only get in New York and only experience in Hudson River Park,” said Gregory Boroff, executive director of the Friends. “Two of our most important resources are the singular programming and location of the park and our celebrity friends. Bringing the two together seemed like a natural fit!
“The idea was to take celebrities and partner them with activities in the park, and then partner with Charitybuzz to do the auction,” he explained. “We went to celebrities who are already friends of the park, who are involved with the park. Each celebrity picked what they wanted to do. Denis Leary is an avid tennis player — I hear he’s really good. David Chang used to be a semi-professional golfer.”
On the other hand, Boroff said, they were “really surprised” to learn that Berkus frequently flies on the trapeze at Pier 40, or that Shields was up for sailing.
As of this Friday evening, sailing with Shields topped the list, with the high bid for her standing at $12,500. Strolling with Stewart was in second place at $3,250.
(The in-demand Shields will also be the honorary chairperson of this year’s Friends of Hudson River Park gala.)
It’s not just about the activities, though, but also the ability to schmooze with the stars and maybe get some valuable tips. Take hitting the little links with super-realtor Eklund, for example, Boroff said.
“You’re getting one-one-one time with him. He’s one of the top agents in the city — and you’re playing mini-golf with him,” the Friends head noted.
The activities with the celebs will take place over the spring, summer and fall.
“They’re celebrities, yes,” Boroff said, “but they use the park, they support the park. They’re true friends of the park.”