On September 27 and 28, all eyes will be on Third Avenue, which marks its biggest weekend of the year, with the 48th annual Ragamuffin Parade on Saturday, and the 41st annual Third Avenue Festival on Sunday.
These blockbuster events are renowned in Bay Ridge and beyond, drawing huge crowds first to celebrate childhood with Ragamuffin, and then to celebrate community with a festival whose longevity is, by all accounts, a direct result of participation by local merchants, arts groups and civic groups who turn out reliably, year after year, to the delight of local residents who know that the early fall event is an ideal time to reconnect with their neighborhood after the summer hiatus.
Truly, the two events are an ideal showcase for a neighborhood which has deep roots, but which also comprises a big tent, increasingly diverse, welcoming newcomers to the community and the country.
Many of the children who dress up in costume for Ragamuffin are continuing a family tradition. Before them, their parents marched in the event, perhaps even their grandparents, back in the days when the parade was a walk around the block where Our Lady of Angels is located and when the costumes were no more elaborate than oversized clothing borrowed from mom or dad’s wardrobe.
By the same token, the crowds at Ragamuffin include numerous children new to the event, whose participation – garbed in superhero costumes, or as princesses or firefighters — could be the beginning of a tradition for their families that they, in turn, will carry into the future.
The next day, as the crowds descend again on Third Avenue for the festival (which is up against pretty big competition, the Atlantic Antic on Atlantic Avenue, another annual tradition), the same diversity is evident. Young and old, third-generation Ridgeite and relative newcomer, all mingle on the thoroughfare as they explore the neighborhood’s culinary delights, stop and enjoy the home-grown entertainment, and shop at stands put up by the strip’s mom and pop businesses.
It’s great entertainment, and it’s also great for local merchants, who seize the opportunity to boost their bottom line, generating business and, they hope, a whole new group of repeat customers
Finally, the weekend provides a once-a-year opportunity for Bay Ridge to strut its stuff and show off, just a little bit, when visitors come to partake of the full schedule of fun when everything that’s great about the neighborhood is on display, for all to admire and enjoy.