Have You Herd? The Goats Are Back at Riverside Park.

It was about 15 minutes into the second-ever “Running of the Goats” ceremony on Wednesday when the massive crowd of spectators gathered at 120th Street and Riverside Drive started chanting: “Free the goats! Free the goats!”

Twenty-four goats have been awaiting their launch into the not-so-wild to start their weed-grazing journey via Riverside Park. The crowd erupted in cheers as soon as the goats have been set free of a trailer and started working down a staircase right into a fenced enclosure.

“I don’t think I’ve seen anything more random than this,” mentioned Meera Sitaram, 30, of the Upper West Side.

Swarms of New Yorkers turned out for the occasion.  “It feels great to see the community and feel safe among our friends and family again,” one mentioned.Credit…Sara Naomi Lewkowicz for The New York Times

After taking a hiatus final 12 months due to the pandemic, the Riverside Park Conservancy introduced the herd of goats again to the town this 12 months in an effort to cut back the quantity of invasive vegetation in sure areas of the park.

The lots gathered for the eccentric occasion listened to reside musical performances, heard from native politicians and obtained free goat-embroidered fanny packs.

Five of the goats — Buckles, Chalupa, Mallemar, Ms. Bo Peep and the fan favourite Skittles — will keep within the park till the tip of August. New Yorkers will be capable to vote for his or her favourite on-line, in an election that, in a nod to the current main, will use ranked-choice voting.

Lynda Tower, vice chairman of operations for the Riverside Park Conservancy, a nonprofit group, mentioned the thought took place as a result of the group had been struggling to revive the realm for the previous 15 years.

“The site is on a really steep hill, and it’s very difficult to access,” Ms. Tower mentioned. “We have volunteers come clear the species, and it comes back like three weeks later. It’s hard to do plantings. It’s hard to diversify the site. We finally realized that we were fighting a losing battle and maybe we needed some reinforcements. Hence the goats.”

The Riverside Park Conservancy has had problem combating invasive species in a steep, hard-to-access space, so it referred to as in reinforcements.Credit…Sara Naomi Lewkowicz for The New York Times

Ms. Tower mentioned the goats would spend the following couple of weeks at the restoration website consuming invasive species like poison ivy.

“We were planning to do it last year, but obviously last year had its own challenges,” Ms. Tower mentioned. “Hopefully, now we can plan to do it for a couple of years moving forward.”

She hopes that the goats will finally denude the foundation programs sufficient to eradicate the invasive species, so herbicides gained’t be wanted to take away them.

Carol Berkin, 78, went to the primary Running of the Goats, again in 2019, and famous how extravagant this 12 months’s occasion was compared.

“Last time there wasn’t an eighth of this,” Ms. Berkin mentioned. “Now they had a band and they sold shirts and the fanny pack. It’s a nice thing, and New Yorkers are just great about nice things.”

Danielle Chon-Briggs sat on her pal David Hernandez’s shoulders to look at the goats race. Another pal, Kristin Jordan, first informed them concerning the occasion.

“I think in the last couple of years we’ve seen the Riverside Conservancy do more events and engage the neighborhood,” mentioned Ms. Jordan, 48. “It feels great to see the community and feel safe among our friends and family again.”

Ms. Chon-Briggs, 24, mentioned she had simply moved to the Upper West Side from Brooklyn. “I’m very new to the neighborhood, so this was so amazing.”

New Yorkers will get to vote for his or her favourite goat on-line.Credit…Sara Naomi Lewkowicz for The New York Times

She mentioned she already had a favourite goat.

“There was one goat that came out and it literally didn’t know what to do,” she mentioned. “It just waited for all the other goats to start running and then started running.”

Mr. Hernandez, 25, grew up on the Upper West Side and mentioned he was stunned he hadn’t gotten bored with visiting the park he frequented as a baby.

“I went to this park all the time,” he mentioned. “But now it’s 10 a.m. and we’re all texting each other like, ‘We’ve got to go see these goats.’”