BAY RIDGE — Monsters, bats, witches, ghouls and goblins permeated the neighborhood as 300 artists from 30 District 20 schools were invited to decorate the windows of local businesses along shopping strips in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights for the 67th annual Halloween window-painting contest.
This year’s theme was fall scenes and the result was a wide array of creatively conceived paintings that amazed, impressed and in some cases scared viewers with their originality. All students were awarded a gold, silver or bronze medal for their artistic efforts.
It all starts with a painting that children create at school and submit in hopes of having it selected for display on a storefront window. This year’s event took place on Tuesday, Oct. 29, sponsored and organized by the Bay Ridge Community Council (BRCC), its president Ralph Succar and members including Maria Makrinos and Joanna Succar.
Some of the businesses that generously donate their window space for the students to paint include Connors and Sullivan Attorneys at Law, Empire State Bank of Third Avenue, Brooklyn Market, Northfield Bank on Third Avenue, Foodtown on Third Avenue, Bay Ridge Family Eyecare Optical on Bay Ridge Avenue, Investors Bank, Capital One, Len’s Appliance Services, Mike’s Diner, Brothers Deli & Bagel, Livan Savino Opticians, SuperFresh Grocery Delivery, Nationwide, Cathy’s Place, the Kettle Black, Tuscany Grill, NIA Community Services and the office of City Councilmember Justin Brannan who also helped sponsor the event.
Brannan recalled his own experience as a youth participating in the event. “The Halloween window painting contest is one of those longstanding Bay Ridge traditions that makes our community special,” Brannan told this paper. “Every year, I’m amazed at the students’ talent and grateful to the Bay Ridge Community Council for continuing to give them the opportunity to showcase it. Feels like yesterday that I did it as a kid at P.S. 185.”
On the day of the event, Makrinos and the Succars hosted a meal for the luncheon at the Bridgeview Diner to go over the plans for the day. Makrinos called the competition a community event built around lasting memories that the children will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
“Can you believe we’ve been doing this in the community for 67 years?” said Ralph Succar, about the organization that was founded in 1951. Also attending the luncheon were BRCC members Robert Kassenbrock, Arlene Jablonski, Diana Feliciano, Irene Hanvey, Eleanor Sabbagh, and Peter and Patricia Killen.
Dina Pizzarello and Tonia Franzese, art teachers at I.S. 201 in Dyker Heights, were especially proud of their students who were decorating the windows at Foodtown. Joyce Weng, who said she aspires to be an artist, was a fill-in at the last moment and ended up winning a gold medal for her efforts. “It was all last-minute and that’s just how talented she is,” said Pizzarello.
Kelly Chen, who also attends I.S. 201, was also a gold medal winner. “I just wanted to do something realistic,” she told this paper. “I love animals and I just didn’t want to do something gory,” she added.
Daniel Palmick was awarded for his elaborate painting of a giant pumpkin. “I worked on the drawing for this painting in school for over a month,” Palmick explained. “I had a draft of it and then did it on a bigger piece of paper which I then modified even further. I added all the elements and then had to repaint them. At the end I came up with this picture,” he added.
Jenna from I.S. 201 wanted to take a different approach in her painting. “I was trying to think of something that was different,” she explained. “A lot of people do things like witches and pumpkins so I came up with a scarecrow and I decided to add this weird monster reindeer in the background.”
Also offering his support for the event was State Sen. Andrew Gounardes. “Congratulations to BRCC and all the children who participated in a successful window painting contest! Special thanks to all those businesses who donated their window space. This is an example of why our neighborhood is such a wonderful place to live,” added Gounardes.