SUNSET PARK — The fun returned to Sunset as the Sunset Park Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) hosted its annual end-of-summer event, the Sunset Park Fifth Avenue Street Festival, on Sunday, Sept. 15.
The annual event ran all day from 44th to 59th Streets, with loads of fun offerings such as free live music at stages at 44th and 54th streets, kids’ activities, bounce houses (including free ones sponsored by the BID), rides, games, and vendors selling a wide range of merchandise including, of course, lots of food, was another success, thanks to the great weather, variety of entertainment and collaboration of everyone involved.
Sunset Park BID Executive Director David Estrada told this paper that the festival, the second one he has organized, was another success.
“It was fantastic,” he said. “People were shoulder to shoulder from 58th Street to 44th Street. When you look up the hill, you could see a continuous group of people all the way along the 15-block festival and there were no incidents.”
Among the highlights, according to Estrada, were, “Superman fighting Batman, Bumblebee and the Regina Opera band. Johnny’s Pizzeria came out with Close Enuf, their 20-year tradition of rock and roll.
“Then,” he went on, “we had some surprise performances that were really sort of new voices from the neighborhood like the mariachi school over in front of Pioneer Market, which had charming performances by young musicians.”
The performances at the stage at 54th Street, which was sponsored by the BID. were produced by Sobreranis Productions. A Mexican Independence Day music celebration was held at the stage at 44th Street. It was produced by Edgar Alvarez of Fiesta VIP Entertainment.
Estrada was happy to get families involved in the event.
“That’s our goal and that’s the definition of success because a lot of the festivals you see all over town are produced by third party production companies,” he said. “We do everything in-house. Cathy Williams [of the BID] and I are personally looking at each vendor and trying to make sure they’re at a block that makes sense to them and they’re not selling the same thing. That’s why you don’t see the same things sold on every block. It’s a lot more work but it’s a lot more personal and more true to Sunset Park’s spirit.”
The food was a big seller, said Estrada. “Our food vendors were running out of inventory,” he told this paper. “From candy apples, sausages, tacos, they were going gangbusters. Food was a real highlight.”
He also applauded the work of the city agencies, including the 72nd Precinct, that were involved.
“Deputy Inspector Gonzalez came through for us; the community affairs officers were working with us for weeks in advance with all the preparation and such,” he said. “People don’t see it because they’ve all gone home but the Sanitation Department had two street sweepers going back and forth until 10 at night. What thrills me is the avenue looked better on Monday morning after the festival than it does on a regular week. It’s really an example of what happens when a local community group works together with city agencies.”