Sunset Park bids adieu to summer with its annual Fifth Avenue Festival

Summer ended with a bang in Sunset!

The annual Sunset Park Fifth Avenue Street Festival, which started in 1999, was another success as attendees from the neighborhood and elsewhere gathered to celebrate the final day of summer with music, food, games and a lot of culture. The Sunday, September 20 event included several new additions and featured old favorites.

“Everybody is having a great time,” said Executive Director of the Sunset Park Business District (BID) Renee Giordano. “We have a lot of music. Kids are getting their child ID kits and fingerprints.”

Giordano also saw the local community benefit from the area. “A lot of the non-profits are giving out information and I’m seeing a lot of people buying from the different vendors,” she said. “We have a lot of local businesses this year talking part. There are very few empty spots.”

Among the highlights were shopping, live music from cover band Closenuf, and a Mexican stage set up on 44th Street where the culture was well represented with various performers.

“Mostly, the food is always a big seller,” Giordano said, adding that over 30,000 people attended the festival. “Mexican and Ecuadorian artifacts were popular this year. We try very hard to mix it up and have variety so that we have something for everyone.”

One of the highlights was the appearance of actor and Sunset Park native, J.W. Cortes, who is slated to appear in season two of “Gotham.” The rising star, who signed autographs and mingled with fans, was happy to return.

“It’s an extra special day for me to meet fans of Sunset Park because we have that connection. Today I felt was a tremendous opportunity to meet some of the youngsters who may have the same dreams that I had growing up as a kid here,” he said.

Cortes stressed the importance of setting a good example for local children. “They’re at such a young and tender age that they can be influenced in either direction and if I could pull them towards the light, then that to me is a win-win. It warms me and fills my heart up with love,” he said.

“It’s been going great,” added the commanding officer of the 72nd Precinct Captain Tommy Ng. “They do this every year. It’s a good family get-together day. It also brings business back to the community.”

Performers, such as the Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) Twirlers, also had a blast. “It’s extremely important for us to be a part of this community because it also allows us to reach out to those who we normally don’t reach out to,” said Cecilia Fedyn, director of the team. “We don’t have a lot of money to do advertising so we feel this is the best opportunity for us to come out and promote. Because it’s such a local community feeling, it’s great to have the opportunity to show what we’re about.”

Longtime attendees also had a blast. “The weather is beautiful and there are tons of families here,” said Rob Aguilar, the host of the Sunset Park Podcast. “This is what it means to a lot of people in Sunset Park. It’s a day to enjoy music, games for the kids, a lot of educational things too, like the free art course. So it’s a truly family oriented event.”

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