Hula hoops, tacos and pony rides were among the many family-friendly activities that filled Sunset Park’s Fifth Avenue Festival between 44th and 59th Streets on Sunday, September 14. The annual festival has been held since 1999 and is an opportunity for neighbors to interact with and support local small business vendors and community arts groups over food, dancing and fun.
“Each year, we say it’s the best ever, but this year we had more free rides than ever between 45th and 46th Street, as well as the return of pony rides,” said Renee Giordano, executive director of the Sunset Park Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District (SPBID), which hosts the event. “The two stages always have lots of music and the weather was perfect – sunny, but not hot.”
The two stages were located at 44th and 54th Streets and featured a mix of performers. On the local front, there was the Regina Opera Company, youth singer Ximena, the OLPH Twirlers, the Fredy Soberanis Band, Nuevo Hit, and the Dragon Dancers.
Over at the 44th Street stage, five bands and seven solo artists, some of whom flew in from Mexico, performed. Among the most famous were Erick Sandoval and popular impersonator Ernesto Lagos, aka La Paka Rapera. A clown show was also on hand to keep the kids entertained.
The presence of artists from Mexico reflects the fact the festival also doubles as the city’s largest Mexican independence celebration, known as the Festival Independencia de Mexico, explained Sunset Parker Edgar Alvarez, whose Fiesta VIP Entertainment organized the 44th Street stage lineup.
“My favorite thing to do at the festival is to watch people have fun,” said Alvarez. “It’s a family event. We have kids in carriages and people who look like they’re 70 years old, all having a good time together and staying from beginning to end.”
Also new this year was a taco-eating contest sponsored by long-time local business Tacos El Bronco, which was severely damaged from a fire in April, but which continued to serve customers out of a food truck parked outside the 4324 Fourth Avenue restaurant.