Opinions & observations: Tapping Bay Ridge volunteer spirit, merchants help raise $6,480 in fight against cancer


In the years leading up to the pandemic, local organizations defined volunteer communities like Bay Ridge. It’s the only place in the city that has its own bar association — the Bay Ridge Lawyers Association, now in its seventh decade — as well as the Bay Ridge Community Council, with a constituent membership of civic, religious and educational organizations thanks to stalwarts like Ralph Succar and Bob Kassenbrock. The Dyker Heights Civic Association, a longtime civic group led by Fran Vella-Marrone, has been a leading constituent member of the BRCC since the council’s inception. 

We’re betting the above-mentioned and many more will survive the pandemic and help reorganize the Greater Bay Ridge community, hopefully within the next 12 months.

Does it sound complicated? Not really.

The 54-year-old Ragamuffin Parade was canceled this year, but there’s every chance — I guarantee it, in fact — that we’ll see thousands of kids marching down Third Avenue next fall in the spirit of the parade’s co-founders Fr. Lawrence McKenna and Cliff Scanlon and led by Ragamuffin Parade Committee President Rose Gangi and her trusted brigade of volunteers.

Third Ave. — then Fifth Ave. — take lead in fighting cancer

The Merchants of Third Avenue, which actually had an early foundation moment back in the 1930s and is a longstanding BRCC member, is still doing what it can, as are the business improvement districts on Fifth Avenue and 86th Street.

Defying the odds, the Merchants of Third Avenue doesn’t get cleanup funds and thousands more like Fifth Avenue and 86th Street do thanks to their BID status. Still a unique business-civic association — led by President Bob Howe, Co-Treasurer Brian Chin and leaders like Dan Texeira, Jeanine Condon, Sheila Brody, Patrick Gilbride, John Keegan, Bob Daquara, Tommy Casatelli, Gerry Morris and many more — the Merchants group took an active role in one of the most inspirational cancer benefit movements, which started off last Saturday with “The 3rd on 3rd,” sponsored jointly with Vented in Brooklyn, a worthwhile venture founded by Chrisie Canny.

Despite the pandemic, which is delivering lethal blows to local businesses, Canny partnered with Merchants leaders above — especially Condon of Charmed and Brody of the Green Spa & Wellness Center — and has raised as of this writing $6,480!

These funds (and more still to be raised on Third and Fifth avenues) will go to Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Brooklyn.

Chin summed it up for the Merchants when he recognized “awesome support from our fellow merchants on Third Avenue to support a worthy cause. Despite being in a pandemic, the Third Avenue merchants came together to support the fight against breast cancer.” 

“You all are amazing!” Canny told the Merchants group. “One of the best stories I have heard is about a store owner who wasn’t participating at first, but when they saw what was happening they came up with nice donation because they had such a great day on Third! We made a difference in small business on the avenue and helped find a cure!

“And there’s an added bonus. Some of the businesses we have talked to told us last Saturday was a busier Saturday than usual and that a lot of people came out to shop small and pink!”

On Wednesday, the indefatigable Canny had already shifted her focus to Fifth Avenue.

“Next thing for me,” she told us, “is gifting 36 cancer patients a Vented bracelet thanks to selling 36 on Saturday! We will do it through the American Cancer Society Making Strides Brooklyn at Bay Ridge Bakery. The Bay Ridge Bakery is gifting 36 pink cupcakes on the 14th as well!”

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