BY MEAGHAN MCGOLDRICK & ANNA SPIVAK
It’s lookin’ like a summer of fun for Bay Ridge.
Three separate events – one old and two new – are on the horizon for the community, with dates for the Fifth Annual Summer Stroll and the First Annual Taste of Fifth given the green light by Community Board 10 at its monthly meeting held at the Norwegian Christian Home, 1250 67th Street, on Monday, February 22, while on the other side of town, at Cocoa Grinder, 8511 Third Avenue, the Merchants of Third Avenue (MTA) announced its plans for the first-ever Senior Sidewalk Social.
Summer Stroll “is the biggest thing to hit Third Avenue in decades,” said MTA Recording Secretary Chuck Otey, stressing that this year’s event — which closes the thoroughfare to traffic for a certain number of blocks — will be bigger, better and safer than ever. “This brings thousands of people from the more affluent neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Manhattan… They show up with their strollers and their bowlers and they love it here. This, more than any other thing on Third Avenue, is putting Bay Ridge on a much, much broader map.”
Changes this year will include more hands-on activities, and a stricter set of guidelines for participating merchants to keep in line with the family-feel of the event.
“We have gotten complaints where people are walking up and down with open containers of alcohol and this is a no-no,” said MTA President Bob Howe. “There are no events in the city where you can walk on the avenue carrying and drinking alcohol and Summer Stroll is just like that.”
According to Ilene Sacco, president of the 68th Precinct Community Council and one of the stroll’s organizers, to alleviate these issues, this year, participating merchants must apply for a one-day permit with the State Liquor Authority (SLA) if they plan on serving alcohol as well as adhere to a new set of guidelines which includes sectioning off the area where drinking can take place.
This modification, organizers say, will only strengthen the stroll.
“We’re [also] looking to do more interactive things,” said Sacco. “Last year, the senior center put some tables outside for bingo and it was great. We’re going to look into doing other fun stuff.”
Building on that same success, the inaugural Senior Sidewalk Social – an all-day affair for those over the age of 60 — will not close the avenue but will instead invite seniors to shop, dance, dine and more, all at a discount at select businesses along the strip.
“Every eight seconds someone turns 65, so this is a growing market and they tend to stay in the community,” said Judie Grimaldi, project coordinator, noting that the theme of the event (Welcome to the ‘60s) plays on both the decade and the age at which residents can participate. “We want to reintroduce [the community] to them. We want to show them this is a great place to shop, to entertain yourself, to learn, to be and not have to go anywhere but here.”
Meanwhile, the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District is hoping to move on its own set of outdoor events, The Taste of Fifth Avenue – two Friday nights out on the town, spanning Fifth Avenue from 73rd to 83rd Street, with the thoroughfare closed to traffic.
“This is a new venture for them and they want to try it out in the hopes that it will also be a successful event for the merchants,” explained CB10 Traffic & Transportation Committee Chair Jayne Capetanakis. “Similar to the Summer Stroll, they are seeking that this will be a family event and not a festival. They will be getting sound permits and having marshals in place; they will not have rides but are hoping to bring in things such as a skating rink, clowns, balloons and face painting.”
“We’re very excited,” said Pat Condren, executive director of the Fifth Avenue BID, noting that this is just the beginning for events along Fifth. “We look forward to having the restaurants, the residents and the shopkeepers enjoy taking the streets back for a little bit in the summertime.”
The Senior Sidewalk Social (spanning Third Avenue from 83rd Street to 93rd Street) is confirmed for Tuesday, May 17 from 2 to 7 p.m. Meanwhile, the Fifth Avenue BID has applied to the city’s Department of Transportation to close the street for two Fridays — June 24 and August 26 — for the Taste of Fifth, and the Third Avenue Merchants has applied for six Fridays: July 15, July 29 and August 12 (80th Street to 90th Street) and July 22, August 5 and August 19 (Bay Ridge Avenue to 80th Street).
The Third Avenue Merchants also applied for six dates last year, but was only granted four by the city.
The community board’s vote is advisory only.