Gramercy Park to open on Christmas Eve for musical performance

- The sounds of Christmas will fill Gramercy Park for one hour on Christmas Eve. It is the only time of the year the exclusive private green space is open to the public.

Former Metropolitan Opera baritone Kamel Boutros will be leading the Christmas music. Boutros is now the music director of Calvary-St. George's Church parish in Gramercy Park. The trained baritone and classic pianist enjoys taking part in this Gramercy Park tradition that started in the 1890s.

"I love the fact that people sing with joy," he said. "It's one hour of peace and joy."

In 1831, Samuel B. Ruggles filled in a swamp and built a garden that he called Gramercy Park, according to Arlene Harrison, a trustee and the president of the Gramercy Park Block Association. He put a fence around it and locked it in 1844. Ruggles intended for the homeowners who live around the park to care for the garden, she said.

"My goal as a trustee of the park is to make sure is this remains for future generations," Harrison said.

It has not always been easy to keep the space located in some of the most expensive real estate in Manhattan private. Harrison has spent many years fighting off legal challenges in court.

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