By Bobby Panza
On Wednesday afternoon, the Riverside Park Conservancy hosted a farewell ceremony for the seven goats that spent their summer chomping down weeds, poison ivy, and other invasive species from the steep western slopes of Riverside Park woodland.
Dozens of fans came out to West 120th Street and Riverside Drive to celebrate the ‘Goatham’ Goats: Charlie, Chico, Cowgirl, Mallomar, India, Lemon, and Templeton who gobbled up approximately 7,000 pounds of intrusive vegetation during their summer residency which is now in its fourth year. Tom Petty’s Wildflowers, Tom Jones’ Green Green Grass and Poison Ivy by The Coasters played on the sound system, setting the mood as eager attendees waited to see which member of the herd would be crowned “Greatest of All Time” (GOAT) of 2023.
Over 5,000 votes were cast in the GOAT competition. Mallomar won the top honor with 1,686 votes (46%) in the “OG Four” category, which represented the original four goats that started the season in July. Chico came in second with 1,165 votes, with Charlie and Cowgirl following behind.
India emerged victorious with 1,216 votes (55%) in the GOAT class of newcomers, who were brought in later in August “in response to the escalating threat of invasive species driven by climate change,” said Whitney Dearden, director of public programming at the Riverside Park Conservancy. Templeton won the silver with 844 votes, with Lemon getting the lemon with 144.
“They worked very hard this summer so they are off to a long-deserved vacation at their home in Rhinebeck, NY,” declared Dearden. “The goats successfully cleared the way for reforestation contractors to come into the slope and begin to replant with native plant materials. Without their support, the reforestation crew would be much more limited in scope.” Dearden went on to detail that the steep hill from 119th to 122nd Streets is hard on human ankles, and the nearby tennis courts have excessive vegetation, making it difficult for the conservancy team to access them.
Merritt Birnbaum, Riverside Park Conservancy President and CEO spoke next, telling the gallery that the goats are just one example of how the Conservancy is adapting to reducing waste in the park. Replacing unproductive turf areas with bioswales and meadows, reducing fossil fuel consumption with e-vehicles, and a new compost initiative, which the goats chewed the ribbon for earlier this summer, are some of the other initiatives they are working on.
Let the anticipation begin to see if the goats return for more in 2024!
To receive WSR’s free email newsletter, click here.