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Fifth Avenue merchants celebrate the holiday season

The holiday season was in full swing as members of the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District gathered at the Bay Ridge Manor to celebrate and to honor two of their own.

Zoe Koutsoupakis, vice president of Marathon Bank, which has been acquired by Investors Bank, and Olympia Colandrea, the founder of Da Noi on Fifth, were feted for their efforts on behalf of the avenue and the community.

“You are the person who has the community in your heart, mind and soul every single day,” State Senator Marty Golden told Koutsoupakis, who was described by BID Vice President Basil Capetanakis as “a successful banker, a successful professional woman, a humanitarian and a member of many philanthropic organizations.”

As for Colandrea, she, “Came to this country with a dream of bringing out the best in people,” noted Jim Clark, the BID president. Through hard work, he went on, Colandrea has doubled the size of her Fifth Avenue salon from 3,000 to 6,000 square feet in just four years. “She continually educates herself and her staff. Her number one goal is to reveal the beauty hidden within everyone.”

“You have done great work in our community,” agreed Golden.

The BID also came in for its share of praise, called by City Councilmember Vincent Gentile, “an important force in keeping Bay Ridge strong.”

Fran Vella-Marrone, who attended the event on behalf of Congressmember Michael Grimm, stressed the importance of what the BID does and what it stands for. “You represent the backbone of the community,” she said, “small businesses. If not for small business, we wouldn’t have an economy.”

Toys were also collected for needy children, with each attendee asked to bring one. A huge tower of playthings dominated a corner of the main room at the 76th Street catering hall; they will be brought by Ray Flood to the Sisters of Mercy for distribution.

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