‘Elf’: Are the Feared Central Park Rangers Real and What Happened at the Simon & Garfunkel Concert That the Film References?

By the end of the classic Christmas movie Elf, the Central Park Rangers had emerged as the antagonists as they wanted to stop Santa Claus from delivering presents to kids across New York City as people started to no longer believe in him. But are the Central Park Rangers actually real and did the Simon & Garfunkel concert that they were still under investigation for actually happen?

Elf New York City Premiere
Will Ferrell | James Devaney/WireImage

The Central Park Rangers are real but maybe not as feared

There is a division of the New York City police department that enforces the public parks in the city. They aren’t called specifically Central Park Rangers, but have a general name, Urban Park Rangers, since they look over multiple parks across the city.

According to the city’s website, “since 1979, the Urban Park Rangers have helped New Yorkers and visitors of all ages to discover and explore NYC’s natural world through environmental education, outdoor recreation, wildlife management, and active conservation.”

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The Urban Park Rangers seem to be mostly about helping folks navigate the parks and learning more about them, as opposed to being a feared division of the police department.

The Simon & Garfunkel concert happened, though it was years before the film stated

In the film, there is a Simon and Garfunkel concert referenced from 1985 where crowd control was an issue. It is a real-life event that happened in 1981, not 1985 as said in the film, but not much is documented about what happened in reality. In the movie, it is unclear what actually happened, but it is stated that the Rangers are still under investigation because of their actions there, but we don’t know what the Rangers did, if anything.

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As reported by the New York Daily News, there weren’t any issues, though there was an incident where a man ran on stage.

The publication reports, “Despite some complaints that concert organizers had not provided enough speakers for the crowd to hear the music, the mood was jovial. Police and urban park rangers described the gathering of mostly white, middle-class men, women and children as ‘law-abiding.’ There was one scary incident in the concert during Simon’s introduction of a new song entitled ‘The Late Great Johnny Ace.’ A man ran into the stage during the lyrics concerning the death of former Beatle John Lennon. He was hustled off by park security personnel.”

What is confirmed, however, is some actions that the Rangers took with summonses. They issued summonses “for minor drug offenses, illegal sales of buttons and other concert memorabilia.”

Ranger Al Lopez told the New York Daily News at the time, “We’re trying to use discretion – we’re supposed to be good-will ambassadors, too. We have to make people feel safe, but at the same time we have to show them we mean business.”