Editor's Note

Editor’s Note: 4/20 isn’t just for smoking this year

Tokers, already outside, can enjoy 53 car-free streets as part of the New York City Department of Transportation’s early celebration of Earth Day.

A woman smokes marijuana in Washington Square Park.

A woman smokes marijuana in Washington Square Park. Leonardo Munoz/VIEWpress

It feels like the celebrated 4/20 cannabis holiday keeps getting more and more positive attention with each year that passes since former Gov. Andrew Cuomo legalized the smoking of recreational pot in 2021. It’s a day when people celebrate marijuana and its consumption, whether by smoking weed or eating edibles – and it’s most fun when done in groups and communities. Manhattan’s Washington Square Park seems to get more and more crowded every year, taking on a festival-like atmosphere with crowds puffing away among music performers and vendors. Even local businesses are helping celebrate 4/20 with special deals. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema this year cleverly rebranded as Alamo Dankhouse Cinema, offering a menu catering to moviegoers with the munchies.

The New York City Department of Transportation, however, had something else in mind this 4/20 – a celebration of Earth Day with its open streets program, shutting down 53 thoroughfares, including Broadway from 17th Street to 46th Street in Manhattan. That’s the biggest number of closures to date. “Car-free day is about celebrating Mother Earth,” Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez said about the closures, encouraging people to to “leave their vehicles at home and opt to more sustainable modes of transportation like transit, biking or walking.”

It’s not clear if the department realized the celebration, two days before the Earth Day holiday to seize on a Saturday in April, would coincide with 4/20. But it is a welcome overlap when so many tokers will be outdoors anyway celebrating high times.