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Monday, 24 September, 2001, 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK
A life less extraordinary
Playing baseball in the park
Just another sunny Sunday in New York City?
The mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, has voiced his wish that life in the city should return to normal. BBC News Online's Jonathan Duffy finds that folk are keen to re-establish their old routines.

Normal doesn't usually feel this strange for Kevin Harrison and Karen McCormick.

Kevin and Karen
Kevin and Karen: Needed to get away from the TV
Perched on a cooler box in Brooklyn's Prospect Park early on Sunday evening, Kevin is stoking the coals of a small barbecue while Karen marinades the kebabs they prepared earlier.

It's early evening and the warm weather is perfect for a cookout, yet the couple had to wrench themselves away from home to be here.

They have decided to take New York's mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, at his word and try to begin to get back to normal after the terror attack, which destroyed the city's World Trade Center.

"We've just been staying in the house watching the TV pictures on Channel Two," says Kevin.

"That's the only channel we can get. The transmitter for the others was on top of the trade towers."

NYC t-shirt with
The T-shirt says it all - life goes on
The tragedy, in which more than 6,000 people are missing, hit Karen especially hard. She had been due to start a new job at the Trade Center on 10 September - the day before disaster struck.

Luckily - although she didn't think so at the time - she got a call from her prospective employer the week before to say she was no longer needed.

"It's a relief to get away from the TV. It's like a breath of fresh air," she says.

Off to the ballgame

The terror attacks on New York and Washington DC left all Americans shell-shocked. Slowly, normality is starting to return.

Mets player with flag and date of the attack on his sleeve
New York Mets players mourned the attacks
On Friday night, 40,000 baseball fans showed up for the first major sporting event to be hosted in New York since 11 September.

The Miss America beauty pageant went ahead at the weekend and President George W Bush has decreed that all flags should be raised back to full mast.

Prospect Park is a hive of activity again, although only a few miles away, rescue workers continue to sort through the rubble and look for bodies.

The road through the park is a continuous blur of cyclists, joggers and inline skaters.

Playing American football in Prospect Park
Getting ready for a game in Prospect Park
A Chinese-American couple pick autumn mushrooms from under a tree, while parents accompany toddlers feeding ducks. On the lake, groups of friends fool around in pedal boats.

'Life-affirming' place

Sharif Howard and his girlfriend, Iris Perez, sit chatting on a picnic table, against a backdrop of scrappy games of American football and soccer.

Sharif believes that since the attack, the mere act of spending a day in the park has taken on a new significance.

Sharif and Iris
Sharif and Iris: "Good to be alive"
"I have more appreciation of being out here and being alive. It's right that we should come out and enjoy ourselves. Just being here today is a life-affirming thing."

A couple of hours earlier, 50,000 New Yorkers attended a prayer service for victims of the attack, yet Prospect Park appears no less busy than on a normal Sunday, says Iris.

"It's different in Brooklyn. Being in the outer boroughs separates you and there's a sense - maybe it's misplaced - that we are more secure from terrorists here. Brooklyn is not much of a target," says Sharif.

A city stilled

But visitors to New York's most celebrated open space - Central Park - are drastically down, according to one of the park's hotdog sellers, Mizan Ahmed.

Hotdog seller Mizan Ahmed
Hotdog vendor Mizan Ahmed: "Sales are slow"
"It's very slow now. Yesterday I took about $200.

"Normally, on a Saturday, I could expect to see between $800 and $1,000 on a sunny day like that."

At Playmates' Arch, a child-friendly area of the park, eight-year-old Skyler is enjoying his birthday party with an assortment of friends.

The celebration was postponed from last week by Skyler's parents, Greg and Debra.

Greg and Debra
Greg and Debra put off their son's birthday party
"I just thought it was not appropriate to hold it then.

"If you have 5,000 or 6,000 people missing then, even in a city this size, it reaches out to everyone," says Debra, who declines to give her surname.

"But you have to move on and life has to move on as well. We couldn't postpone Skyler's party forever."

'Still smell the burning'

Alison Rainey, who moved to the US from her home near Glasgow, Scotland, came to the park with her two young daughters on the evening of the attack.

Central Park
Skyscrapers loom above picnickers in Central Park
"It was a conscious effort. We had to get away from the television and the images of the towers on fire," she says.

She has also been out shopping several times, but confesses to feeling guilty about such indulgence.

Life in New York is still a long way from normal, she says.

"You are always aware of all that is going on down there [at the WTC site]. I can still get the smell of the burning on our terrace and we're four or five miles away."

Man in park with folk singer in the background
Getting some sun, listening to some tunes
See also:

22 Sep 01 | Americas
Baseball honours the dead
15 Sep 01 | Americas
'The shock's not set in yet'
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