The presented May Day in the Shakespeare Garden, as one of the many events taking place during New Rochelle’s Shakespeare Festival.
The crowd that gathered in Davenport Park Sunday was treated to an assortment of entertaining acts and talented musicians, the beautifully landscaped Shakespeare Garden with its flowers in bloom, the tradition of dancing around the Maypole as in ancient Babylon, and a falconer named Brian Bradley, who became the highlight of the afternoon with his assortment of birds, including an owl, hawk, falcon and step eagle.
Build in 1937, the Shakespeare Garden has seen its ups and downs, having endured periods of neglect. The Garden Club of New Rochelle has made it their priority to maintain the garden with the help of the New Rochelle Parks and Recreation department.
Mary Bowles, the current president of the Garden Club, said that “we're always trying to get a more youthful membership such as young families.”
The club currently has about 70 members, and to celebrate their 100th anniversary, they will conduct avself-guided walking tour of many of the gardens around New Rochelle on June 11.
Another highlight of the afternoon was Richard Stillman, a self-proclaimed “Renaissance man,” since he is not only a musician but an actor, singer, storyteller and even tap dancer.
“I play about 25 instruments, and today I brought with me my mandolin, guitar and even bagpipes,” said Stillman, dressed in Renaissance attire and enjoying the crowd that had gathered around him as he played and danced the afternoon away.
The highlight of the afternoon belonged to Bradley, as he wowed the crowd time and time again with his presentation of four major predatory birds.
“If 200 crows show up, this could get interesting,” he joked as about a dozen or so crows could be heard and seen flying overhead in response to the presence of the hawk and falcon that sat perched on their stands.
The birds were trained at a young age to become working wild animals, not pets.
Gabe Stevenson of New Rochelle was at the May Day celebration with his camera equipped with a 500mm lens, hoping to get a tight close up of the predatory birds.
"This is as close to a falcon as I'm ever going to get,” exclaimed Stevenson as he snapped his pictures.