Riverside Park’s Beloved Weed-Eating Goats Will Return On July 12 To A New Location In West Harlem

Weather Update: Goatham Festival

Due to the likelihood of a storm throughout the day, we are postponing Goatham Festival (originally July 12) to Friday, July 19th.
Thank you for your understanding as we consider the safety of our goats, staff, volunteers, and community.
We look forward to seeing you there as we welcome back our goats for another summer of weed-eating on the 19th!

Riverside Park Conservancy | June 25, 2024

Riverside Park Conservancy will welcome back its famous herd of landscaper goats with a Goatham festival and ribbon-chewing on Friday, July 12. Joining the Conservancy for their fifth summer, the hard-working goats are being given a new job site assignment in Riverside Park at West 143rd Street where they’ll munch on poison ivy and other invasive plants. Undaunted by steep slopes, goats can navigate terrain that presents a major challenge for human gardeners, clearing the way for more ecologically beneficial plantings in the future. 

Thanks to the goat crew’s hard work at 120th Street over the past four summers, the human staff at the Conservancy and NYC Parks now have access to a much clearer slope. With the success of the goats’ work at that location, native understory and large trees to fill in gaps can be installed, protecting the existing mature tree canopy. The Conservancy is thrilled for the goats to bring their big appetites further uptown. 

The goats’ purview this summer on the West 143rd Street slope aligns with the Conservancy’s North Park Initiative, which focuses on bringing more resources, maintenance and programming to the uptown sections of the Park. These areas, which span between West 120th and 181st Streets, have seen years of neglect and disinvestment, leading to great disparities in amenities, cleanliness and overall conditions. The Conservancy has made great strides to address these disparities to ensure all neighbors of Riverside Park can enjoy the benefits that come with quality parkland. In its efforts to cultivate a more equitable experience across the Park and enhance recreation and fitness opportunities, the Conservancy has welcomed new public programming to the natural shoreline at 145th Street and has unveiled new outdoor exercise equipment at 151st Street in partnership with Outletics. 

In 2023, with the help of the goats, the Conservancy drew attention to their Sustainability and Compost Initiatives at their new 95th Street Compost Compound with a ribbon “chewing” to mark the official opening of their composting operations. As continued champions and ambassadors of the Conservancy’s initiatives and improvements, the goats will chew a ribbon of weeds to celebrate the newly installed Outletics fitness equipment that neighbors their new summer home. 

“The goats’ work at their previous location has been incredibly productive, and we’re thrilled to be able to replicate their success in another weed-filled area of the Park,” said Merritt Birnbaum, President & CEO of Riverside Park Conservancy. “They truly have become Riverside Park Conservancy’s mascots, and we’re excited to introduce them to a new neighborhood – and a new all-you-can-eat buffet.”   

The seven goats working in Riverside Park this year – Charlise, Chico, Godiva, Mallomar, Paris, Romeo, and Turbo – come from Green Goats in Rhinebeck, New York. Founded in 2008, Green Goats harnesses goats’ natural affinity for consuming weeds, bringing them to locations across the United States for a pesticide-free alternative to clearing invasive species. Goat fans may recognize Chico and Mallomar, who both were part of the Goatham Class of 2023. Last year, Mallomar was crowned the G.O.A.T. by the public; New Yorkers can ‘goat’ ready to vote for the Class of 2024 again this year.  

The relocation of goats uptown this year required a new enclosure and additional site preparations. These additional improvements and Goatham’s ultimate return are thanks to the support of Amazon, Con Ed, and a generous anonymous Upper West Side neighbor. 

“Working with Riverside Park Conservancy over the last four grazing seasons has been an incredible opportunity and relationship. At Green Goats, all new goats are told they must be on their best behavior so they can ‘summer’ at Riverside Park!” said Annlilita Cihanek of Green Goats. “We are especially proud that they get to be goat ambassadors for the park. Seeing a child’s joy when they encounter our goats working in their neighborhood park is so special.” 

“It’s a great day for West Harlem—and a baaaaaad day to be an invasive plant in Riverside Park: goats are back for the summer!” said Council Member Shaun Abreu. “I couldn’t be more excited to welcome these GOAT weed-eaters to Upper Manhattan, and I look forward to working together, hand in hoof, to clean, enliven, and protect our green spaces.” 

“Welcome back Chico and Mallomar! Riverside Park Conservancy is a leader when it comes to compost in New York City,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer. “The program to convert a massive amount of leaves and clippings into nutrient-rich compost, all without leaving the park, should be a citywide initiative.” 

“As we combat an ever-present climate crisis, we must continue investing in green initiatives and educational opportunities. The Riverside Park Conservancy serves as a great example, successfully implementing creative educational strategies and sustainable maintenance of our beloved green spaces,” said Council Member Carmen De La Rosa. “We look forward to the fifth Goatham Festival. The goats have a lot of work to do in their new space!” 

“It’s a pleasure to welcome baaaack Manhattan’s favorite summer residents. As the true GOATs of landscaping, no one is better suited for tackling the invasive plants in Riverside Park,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “And I’m thrilled that Chico, Mallomar, and friends will be bringing their weed-munching talents above 120th Street this year, playing a key role in the Conservancy’s North Park Initiative.” 

“Using supervised goats is a creative way to take care of some difficult-to-reach areas, especially the steep slopes of Riverside Park. These goats enable us to remove poison ivy and other invasive species, making room for more beneficial plantings in the future,” said Manhattan Borough Commissioner Tricia Shimamura. “Thanks to their hard work and big appetites, they have effectively limited the growth of invasive plant-life over the past four summers, allowing us to continue to protect existing tree canopy. Here’s to another ribbon-chewing!” 

“Con Edison is delighted to assist the Goatham Program at Riverside Park Conservancy,” said Jen Hensley, Con Edison Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs. “It’s not often that goats are the stars of the animal kingdom but when it comes to eliminating invasive species, protecting greenspace, and helping the human staff with restoration, they are truly the G.O.A.T.” 

On Friday, July 12th from 11:00-2:00 PM, the Conservancy will celebrate the return of the goats with a free festival at the lawn north of Ten Mile River Playground at 151st Street, complete with a ribbon chewing ceremony. The entire community is invited to enjoy light refreshments, local vendors, live music, new Goatham merch, and educational activities for all ages. For more details, please visit www.riversideparknyc.org/goatham

Goat fans are encouraged to follow Riverside Park Conservancy on social media for goat updates: 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Riverside.Park.Conservancy  
Twitter: www.twitter.com/RiversideParkNY  
Instagram: www.instagram.com/riversideparknyc  

About Riverside Park Conservancy 

From 59th Street to 181st Street, from riverfront to city-side, Riverside Park Conservancy cares for and enhances six miles of parkland for present and future generations. Working together with the New York City Parks Department, we make improvements as diverse as the park itself and the city it serves.