Even a little rain shower couldn’t dampen the spirits of the folks out to enjoy the year’s final Third Avenue Summer Stroll on Friday, Aug. 9. Strollers enjoyed a wide variety of food, music and entertainment, not to mention endless activities for the children, lined up from 68th Street to 80th Street along the avenue.
Restaurants along the strip had bands playing and outdoor seating. The group Resonate drew crowds outside the Greenhouse Café at 79th Street while people danced in the street. The Dyker Singers performed on 80th Street, and tables were packed in front of the Salty Dog at Bay Ridge Parkway.
Bay Ridge’s Summer Stroll is part of DOT’s Weekend Walks program, which was created to allow communities to use streets as public spaces. The event, now in its eighth year, was presented by the Merchants of Third Avenue and created by a group of community leaders including former state Sen. Marty Golden, Merchant of Third Avenue President Bob Howe with the help of former City Councilmember Vincent Gentile and Merchant’s Secretary Chuck Otey.
“The Third Avenue Summer Stroll is recognized as the best in the city and is regularly used by the city to demonstrate how a ‘weekend walk’ should work,” Otey told this paper.
Summer Stroll organizer Ilene Sacco was pleased with the turnout for the final stroll as well as the previous three. “I don’t think anybody realizes how much work goes into putting these events together,” Sacco told this paper. “It’s an insane amount of work and we’re talking about over 500 documents for health licenses and liquor licenses that have to be processed. The liquor licenses alone are over 300 pages.”
But Sacco said it was all worth it in the end. “It definitely seems like the strolls are getting more and more popular,” she said.
“It’s really great for the community bringing everyone together for things like this. You see so many families and people just enjoying themselves. They’re really great nights and everyone has a great time.”
Sacco explained that she starts working on the stroll in January and doesn’t finish the work until November.
“What was really cool about Friday was that, even though it rained at one point for about 15 minutes, people were still there,” said Sacco. “They may have taken cover but weren’t afraid to come back out. I’m just grateful we had a packed night and the weather was beautiful except for the brief rain. I was just really very happy with the turnout,” she added.
Golden commended the efforts of Sacco, the 68th Precinct, Bob Howe and Merchants of Third Avenue for all the hard work they do.
“This is what Bay Ridge is all about, having ownership and all the people involved who make this happen because it’s what the people want,” Golden told this paper.
“They want an opportunity to come out and be with their neighbors, see old friends that haven’t been around, who went to Staten Island, to Long Island, and who all come back for this great stroll.”
Howe called the stroll a big Bay Ridge block party. “What I really like about it is watching happy people strolling along the avenue — parents, grandparents and children bumping into people they haven’t seen in a year or so,” he explained.
“Also, over the past eight years, people have told me that just being able to walk in the street without any cars is what they enjoy the most about the Summer Stroll,” added Howe.