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My smelly valentine: Sewage treatment plant offers tours

If you really want to show that special someone how much your care about her this Valentine’s Day, take her to see some sewage.

On this Valentine’s Day, one of the more unorthodox activities available to lovebirds is the ability to take that special someone for a tour of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection is offering a tour of the sewage treatment facility that lasts just under two hours and culminates in an expansive view of the Manhattan skyline and the 53-acre Newtown plant from 130 feet up.

The weekly tours, which began nine months ago, are usually conducted on the second Tuesday of every month, which happens to be Valentine’s Day this month. To celebrate the occasion, guests will each be given a Hershey kiss candy while they tour a plant that is responsible for breaking down toxic waste into harmless sludge. They also get a Valentine’s Day story that will almost certainly be unique among their friends.

“People in general say, regardless of any other holiday time, that it’s strange to go see a wastewater plant,’’ plant superintendent and tour director Jim Pynn told TODAY.com. “But by the end, every person leaves with an appreciation and an understanding of the facility. It seems strange to depart from the hearts, flowers and romantic candlelight on Valentine’s Day, but I think New Yorkers are always venturing out to do new things. It makes a good story.’’

Since the existence of the tour was made public by a report by The New York Daily News, Pynn said the response has been so high that they added a second tour. Those interested are asked to register on the DEP’s website, and the volume of responses precipitated the addition of a 1 p.m. tour after the 10 a.m. tour concludes.

Pynn, who has been the plant’s superintendent for 19 years and a DEP employee for 39 years, gives an oral history of the facility while showing visitors the infrastructure. A particular highlight is the “digester eggs,’’ gigantic structures that mimic human stomachs and break down toxic substances into treatable sludge and gas.

Guys don’t have to worry about wearing their Sex Panther cologne to drown out the smell of sewage on the tour, as Pynn said that making sure no one is holding his or her nose has been a priority of improvements.

“It’s a sewer plant that has been under construction for 15 years, and odor control is important,’’ Pynn said. “We’re surrounded by industrial and residential properties, so we don’t want to be a bad neighbor. Most people don’t smell the place, which has been a testament by our actual visitors and shows how we have been containing odors.’’

If spending the day around sewage isn’t an enticing prospect, there is always a candlelit dinner and fine dining at White Castle. The fast-food chain is offering bookings for candlelit booths and selling pink blankets to make it extra special for your date.

Maybe pizza is more your thing rather than a case of sliders. Pizza Hut has you covered, especially if you plan on making a marriage proposal to your date and want to do it over a medium one-topping pizza with some breadsticks and cinnamon sticks. The pizza chain has 10 packages available to “tie the knot” in which it offers a $10 dinner box, a red ruby and diamond engagement ring, limo service, flowers, a fireworks show, a videographer and a photographer for a mere $10,010 plus tax.

If you’re on a tight budget and don’t plan on getting married any time soon, you can head to Qdoba Mexican Grill. On Valentine’s Day, the purchase of an entrée and a simple kiss with “a significant other, family member, friend or understanding stranger’’ will garner you a second entrée for free.

For those who just want to go right to dessert, Cupcakes Gourmet in Philadelphia has a $55,000 cupcake featuring an eight-carat diamond ring perched on top of the frosting.

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