Bay Ridge’s first annual Great Pumpkin Sail and Oyster Fest a success

Sail away.

Halloween came nearly a week early at the Eco Dock at the 69th Street Pier, where the first annual Great Pumpkin Sail & Oyster Festival was celebrated on Sunday, October 26. Children and their families savored free food, learned about oysters, and enjoyed face painting, crafts, and most importantly, pumpkin picking and taking a tour of a sailboat.

“This is the first ever time we’re doing this,” said Councilmember Vincent Gentile, who organized the event with the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance (MWA), the Bay Ridge Arts and Cultural Alliance and the Scandinavian East Coast Museum. “We’ve had a lot of Halloween celebrations in the past but this is the first ever that we’ve had on the water. We also have the Clearwater sailboat which is here for the kids to tour. It’s the first ever pumpkin patch on the water.”

A large line formed on the pier as parents waited to take their eager children on the boat. “They’re excited to go see it and dress up,” said Mari Anne Ponton. “My daughter is a little mermaid and my son is a little fisherman. It’s an early Halloween celebration. It’s also nice to celebrate the harbor. It means a lot to the kids to do something new and go on a boat. They got in the spirit and made their own boat too.”

The windy conditions caused the boat to sway, allowing only 15 people on at a time. “We have a swaying pumpkin patch here,” joked Gentile, who explained how the unique opportunity came to fruition. “When we were going to end the season in October, we thought what better way to end season than with a pumpkin patch on the dock and that’s how this all developed. Then, we figured if we’re going to do it on the dock, let’s get a sailboat in and we’ll make it a joint day.”

As the boat was making its way to the pier, John Dewey High School maritime biology teacher Lane Rosen and students taught children the importance of oysters. “The students are coming out here to do educational research on an oyster reef and we’re monitoring it,” he said. “We’re very passionate about it. What I enjoy most is watching my students teach the other youth. That’s the prize.”

“When we first started doing events and programs at this spot we didn’t know the response we were going to get but as you can see, it’s been overwhelmingly positive,” said Sara Levy, maritime associate at MWA.

“This is great. Let’s hope this becomes a tradition in Bay Ridge,” added Gentile. “I’m looking forward to it. This is part of fun of Halloween, having community join in.”

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