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East Village Community Garden Brought To You By Toyota

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The strangest thing about the East Village of 2008 is that even after all the years of gentrification and development and Starbucks and [insert complaint here], there still can be neighborhood happenings that make you stop and wonder. We figured the 2nd Ave. Deli closing and becoming a Chase bank was pretty much the finish line for "In my day!" outrage (or, if not that, CBGB turning into an upscale clothing boutique), but EVers are probably smirking about the fact that on the same day Eddie Boros' Tower of Toys?literally the biggest reminder of how creative, weird and downright scary the East Village once was (that toy horse was demented, we swear)?was removed from the community garden on Avenue B, another "pocket park" opened just five blocks away: the Toyota Children's Learning Garden.

"The notion of the Toyota Garden is of learning and discovering," the landscape architect told the Times. Discovering the joys ... of driving a Toyota! The park was spearheaded by Bette Midler's New York Restoration Project, and the opening was accompanied by a VIP gala in Tompkins Square Park. According to Neither More Nor Less, there was a big tent, cars lining Avenue A in every which way, and beefy bouncers guarding the park gates. According to news reports, Katie Couric joined Bette Midler on stage at the $250/head event to sing a duet. Strange times, indeed.
· A New Manhattan Park Teaches Children About Plants [NYT]
· The Big Tent in Tompkins Square Park Monday Night ... [NMNL]