By Colleen Kane
My gang of four set out for the Parked food truck fest on Governor’s Island on Sunday knowing it would be crowded; it was covered in all the media outlets. But had we known what we were in for, we never would’ve gone.
As it turned out, Parked was aptly named, since hundreds, maybe thousands of attendees spent most of their afternoon parked on line for hours in (sometimes vain) hope of getting food before the trucks ran out. Before we even got to the island, we waited an hour in the sun at Pier 6 in Brooklyn for the ferry. Of course, a wait is expected on a holiday, but you’d think they would’ve had more ferries going in anticipation of such volume when a popular event is scheduled (the last Parked, in Brooklyn, drew 3,000 attendees).
On arrival to Parked, we instantly saw that our afternoon was going to be no damn fun and all damn lines. It was a circle of trucks turned toward the center with lines tangling and winding and filling the entire middle space.
We strategized: our very pregnant group member, who by this time really needed to eat, held down the A-Team picnic bed sheet under a tree. Her husband got on line for V-Spot, one of the less horrendous-looking lines, to get her (and us) some empanadas, stat. After searching unsuccessfully for the Taccolada truck promised in the Parked pamphlet, I queued up for Rickshaw Dumplings, which required walking out of the previously mentioned circle center and into the street behind the trucks. My husband got on the line for lobster rolls from Red Hook Lobster Pound.
In approximately one hour on that line, I watched incredulously as boatloads of new line-waiters arrived by the hundreds. My friend brought over a decent V Spot veggie empanada with a great spicy sauce, before he relieved me of my shift on line for the last half hour or so of the wait. I gratefully passed him my parasol (because, you see, all of the lines were in the full sun of the afternoon, rather than in the shade of the many trees that ringed the circle of trucks, as they would have been if the trucks had faced outward, if this festival had had any kind of thoughtful planning), then I joined my friend on the A-Team sheet in the shade.
My husband was not so fortunate. After one hour and forty minutes on line, he rejoined us, cursing a blue streak and ready to tear a tree out of the ground and Hulk smash a lobster roll out of the hand of the next person he saw. When he was only about ten line-waiters away from his lobster roll goal, Red Hook Lobster Pound ran out of lobster. But that didn’t stop one of the last people on line to get served from walking away with six of the last ten rolls.
Finally, our last line-waiting friend returned with the Rickshaw Dumplings for all. They were good, as dumplings often are, but in no way were they worth the trouble it took to get them. Ours was the most bitter and cuss-filled dumpling picnic to ever happen on Governor’s Island.
But I can’t say that for certain, because everyone at the festival was standing on these lines, and as early as two hours after opening, other food trucks were running out of their signature items. When I was about a third of the way through the line for Rickshaw Dumplings, which is to say, about 40 minutes in, word reached me that the chicken and waffles had run out elsewhere.
Much like some of the gang from Lost, we were now hurting to get off the island. But even that required another line—another HOUR LONG line just to leave. By the time our ferry made its drunken meandering way back into port, taking at least ten minutes instead of the usual two while bad reggae song after bad reggae song blasted from the speakers on the upper deck, I had lapsed into a fantasy about shooting the speaker across the deck from me.
If we’d given up then, our day would have amounted to something like three and a half hours of waiting for two beers, one empanada, and the angriest dumpling picnic of all time. But we didn’t give up, and our day’s conclusion at a friend’s barbecue was superior to Lost in that it was satisfying. We dined on grilled salmon caught in the wilds of Alaska by our bearded host, relished in their back yard beneath a tree and around a fire ring. It was the quality food al fresco we’d been seeking all day.
So who’s to blame here? I think many of the vendors could have brought a little more, ohhh, I don’t know, FOOD, to this event, I blame the organizers MeanRed Productions and whomever coordinates events at Governor’s Island. An event like this has great potential – let’s hope they learn their lessons and get it right next time.
Get it together, folks—this was a disaster.