It was the perfect spot. It was the only spot. Rikki Klieman decided to adopt a bench for her husband's 65th birthday, just feet away from where he proposed to her. The bench is located in one of the last places one might expect to find the former Police Commissioner of three major US cities: in view of the Carousel. But for Bill Bratton, who was the NYC Police Commissioner from 1994 to 1996, and his wife, Rikki, there was no question where the bench would be. The Carousel was the site of their engagement.
On a cold night in 1999, Bill asked Rikki to dress up. They were going out. Rikki had been expecting a proposal; she just didn't know how he would ask. "I knew this was the night. And I thought he might do something like propose on a marquee in Times Square. The Park never dawned on me." As they drove up north from Midtown, then entered the Park, Rikki guessed where they might be going. They finally arrived at the Carousel, Rikki's favorite spot in the Park. Bill lifted her on to a horse and made his proposal: "I want to go round and round through life with you."
In the years since, the couple has moved to Los Angeles and back again. "The Park was one of the great joys of returning to New York," Bill said. Rikki said they were "thirsty" for the Park. Now they visit together at least once a week at all times of year. She tells her friends, "you'll love it in the winter. Just dress for it." Rikki said they can't be close enough to the Park and could never move downtown for that reason. "The Carousel and Central Park are so meaningful to us," Bill said. As for the bench: "it was a perfect surprise."
Do you have a special spot in the Park? Learn more about the Adopt-A-Bench program.