On the Avenue: Kiwanis’ ‘finest’ feted alongside NYPD officers

They gathered to honor members of New York’s Finest, but also managed to honor one of their own.

The Kiwanis Club of Bensonhurst & Bay Ridge’s annual NYPD Appreciation Night at El Caribe Country Club, 5945 Strickland Ave., served as the perfect opportunity to present longtime Kiwanian Frank Cassara — a member of the Club since 1975 — with the Pediatric Community Service Award he was originally set to receive at Maimonides Health’s Community for Kids Benefit Gala last December. Cassara was unable to attend that event, so co-chairs Brian Long and Frank Naccarato decided to keep his honor a surprise and present the award at a later date.

“Frank has done so much for Kiwanis and is still very active in Club affairs, so we wanted it to be a surprise and make it special for him,” said Long, who also serves as Ben-Bay Kiwanis Club president.

Already a Kiwanis Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Cassara was humbled to learn of the honor and to receive his award in front of so many of his peers and heroes. He spoke about his decades of service to the Club and revealed he has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.

Naccarato and Long presented the award alongside Msgr. David Cassato, who serves as Club chaplain and is also a member.

As mentioned last week, the evening served as a chance to recognize members of the NYPD for their brave service to the community. Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey and former Chief Joe Esposito were among the special guests in attendance for an evening of fine dining “on the avenue.”

Retired FDNY Battalion Chief John Martorana was also there to accept a check from Ben-Bay Kiwanis for $5,000 (raised entirely through the generous donations of Club members themselves) to benefit the Tunnel to Towers Foundation

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They’re bigger, brighter and better than ever before!

The brand-new Ramadan lights hanging along Fifth Avenue to commemorate the Muslim holy month are drawing rave reviews from shoppers and residents alike.

“I think they’re beautiful,” one shopper told us. “And they stretch across the whole avenue!”

“They look incredible at night!” said another.

The new and improved Ramadan lighting hanging along Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge looks beautiful in the daylight (above) and in the evening (below). Above: ebrooklyn media/File photo; Below: Photo courtesy of Columbus-Amsterdam BID

The colorful lights appear courtesy of the Bay Ridge Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), which was recently awarded $100,000 in city funding thanks to a special Small BID Support Grant Program offered through the city’s Department of Small Business Services. Part of that funding was used to extend and improve upon the lights that traditionally hang “on the avenue” during the monthlong celebration.

“Working with Illuminations by Arnold, the BID designed distinctive lighting that is now in place during the month of Ramadan,” BID Executive Director Amanda Zenteno told us. “We encourage all to visit, take pictures, and shop and dine on Fifth Avenue!”

Final plans are being made for a massive gathering inside Leif Ericson Park, Fifth Avenue at 67th Street, as the BID prepared to host its second Community Iftar on April 6, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Last year’s Iftar — the meal eaten after sunset during Ramadan — drew more than 1,000 Muslims and their neighbors for an evening of prayer, dinner and conversation.

“Ramadan Mubarak to all merchants, community partners, friends and neighbors in the Muslim community,” BID officials said.

Zenteno said the funding the BID has received will also bring a number of exciting initiatives to Fifth Avenue.

“The BID will be implementing some exciting community-based programs as part of the grant,” she said. “The BID is partnering with the Bay Ridge Community Development Center (BRCDC) to provide translation services, language access programming and community volunteer projects.”

The BRCDC was also a co-host of the April 6 iftar.

Another item on the BID’s agenda is to celebrate art and culture “on the avenue” on a regular basis. The Small BID Support Grant has made it possible to bring something new and exciting to businesses and consumers alike, Zenteno said.

“The BID is pleased to work with the Stand 4 Gallery on an incredible art exhibit titled ‘Bay Ridge Through an Ecological Lens.’ The event will take place throughout Bay Ridge and will feature artwork on Fifth Avenue,” she said.

Look for more information on these and other events as they draw closer. Visit www.bayridgebid.com for the latest information on all things Fifth Avenue!

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