What a weekend! Tens of thousands of people flocked to Third Avenue in Bay Ridge to take part in two family-friendly events that make up the neighborhood’s biggest weekend of the year — the 57th annual children’s Ragamuffin Parade and the 50th Annual Third Avenue Festival.
After braving torrential rains for much of the week, organizers were thrilled to see that the skies remained clear for Saturday’s parade, which featured thousands of costumed children marching “on the avenue” from 76th Street to 92nd Street.
Grand Marshal Josephine Beckmann and Man of the Year John Quaglione led the parade, which featured schoolchildren and their families, as well as marching bands, bagpipers and martial artists performing for dignitaries stationed on the reviewing grandstand at 90th Street.
In keeping with tradition, every child who marched received a prize at the conclusion of the parade, including a gift card for the best group costume and brand-new bicycles for those deemed “best costume” by a panel of judges.
On Sunday, Mother Nature made up for washing out last year’s festival by providing tens of thousands of participants and guests with picture perfect weather that lasted all day. The result was, as organizers had promised, the biggest and best event in its 50-year history.
“The weather was absolutely fantastic,” beamed Festival Chairman Chip Cafiero. “Huge crowds came out to enjoy all that the festival has to offer and they were not disappointed. There were more than 15 live bands performing throughout the day, plus rides and games for kids and even a special appearance by two baseball legends thanks to the folks at Matted Memories!”
Presented by the Merchants of Third Avenue Civic Improvement Association, Inc. in partnership with Councilmember Justin Brannan, the 50th annual festival created a sea of humanity “on the avenue.”
“There were people literally everywhere,” Merchants of Third Avenue President Dan Texeira said. “The crowd was enormous and there was something for everyone to enjoy, so it worked out perfectly. Some enjoyed shopping and supporting our local merchants, while others brought their kids to enjoy rides and games, and yet others enjoyed dining at some of the avenue’s most popular establishments.”
Among the day’s special attractions was an appearance by New York Mets legends Art Shamsky and his 1969 World Series champion teammate Ed Kranepool. The two icons signed autographs for fans throughout the day through special arrangement with Rudy Saviano and Lisa Vincenzi of Matted Memories, who sold custom mats and frames to festival goers at their adjoining table.
Maimonides Health served as the premier sponsor for this year’s event. Contributing sponsors were Adelphi Academy of Brooklyn, the Kiwanis Club of Bensonhurst & Bay Ridge, Jabour Realty, Northfield Bank and Right at Home.
“Thank you to all of the generous sponsors who helped to make this day such a tremendous success,” Texeira said. “And thank you to Chip for doing such an incredible job of planning the event, as he has done for nearly all of the festival’s 50 years of existence.”