Embrace Winter! Third Ave. plays host to arts festival

BAY RIDGE — It has been a mild winter, so far. But it’s about to get a lot more exciting.

A blizzard of activity will greet visitors on Third Avenue on Saturday, Feb. 22, as the Bay Ridge Arts and Cultural Alliance and the Merchants of Third Avenue present their Eighth Annual Embrace Winter Festival.

Designed to coax people out of their winter doldrums, the festival will feature concerts, dance performances, art exhibitions, arts and crafts workshops and more, all taking place in stores along Third Avenue between Bay Ridge Avenue and 89th Street.

The fun begins at 10 a.m. and goes on all day until 6 p.m. There will be activities for children and adults alike.

“It’s a good way to promote the fact that we have a lively arts scene here in Bay Ridge. And it’s a good way to promote the stores on the avenue,” BRACA Co-founder Victoria Hofmo told the Home Reporter.

BRACA was launched in 2011 by Hofmo and then-Councilmember Vincent Gentile to promote Bay Ridge as a cultural hub in Brooklyn.

Here’s a taste of what visitors can expect on Saturday:

The Scandinavian East Coast Museum, which Hofmo also founded, will welcome Olaf the Snowman for an ice fishing game at Cosentino’s, a fish store at 6927 Third Ave., at 10:45 a.m.

The group Friends of Owl’s Head Park will create owl-themed decorations out of pine cones in Amuni in the side room at Salty Dog, 7509 Third Ave., from noon to 4 p.m. They will also make flowers out of coffee filters.

Regina Opera will dazzle audiences with arias at Vesuvio Restaurant at 7305 Third Ave at 2 p.m.

Cappuccino Café at 7717 Third Ave. has events lined up all day. Performance artist Aeilushi Mistry will appear at noon. Accordion player Ellen Lindstrom will perform at 12:30 p.m. And the group Reel Celtic, with guest Chris Carpenter, takes the stage at 4 p.m.

Audrey Anastasi, a mixed media artist, will set up her exhibition space at Pilo Arts at 8412 Third Ave.

Replay, a musical duo, will perform at Hom at 8810 Third Ave.

The schedule of events is subject to change.

“A lot of these artists and groups have their own followings and the audiences look forward to seeing them,” Hofmo said. “Regina Opera is always the biggest draw at our Embrace Winter Festival.”

Bob Howe, president of the Merchants of Third Avenue, who noted that the festival takes place during winter break, the week when schools are closed, said the event serves an important purpose.

“The event provides families in Bay Ridge who have not left for the mountains or Florida an opportunity to enjoy a unique event. It also introduces a lot of people to the Nordic culture, a culture that embraces winter,” he said.

The Merchants group represents hundreds of storeowners on the avenue. The Merchants are currently working to establish a business improvement district on the avenue and the BID Steering Committee is a presenter of the Embrace Winter Festival.

Howe credited Hofmo with the success of Embrace Winter, describing her as the person who “single-handedly has brought this event to life.”

Councilmember Justin Brannan, a Democrat representing Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and parts of Bensonhurst, praised the festival as a great neighborhood event.

“The Embrace Winter Festival is one of the latest traditions in a neighborhood steeped in tradition. This is a great way to support local arts and culture and I look forward to this year’s event being the most successful one yet,” Brannan told the Home Reporter in an email.

Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10, is a fan of the event.

“It’s a nice winter break event. It spotlights our businesses, arts and culture. I think people should make it a priority to come and enjoy it,” she said. “If you have the winter blues, it will chase the blues away.”

For more information on the Embrace Winter Festival, visit Community Board 10’s events page: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/brooklyncb10/announcements/announcements.page

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