On the Avenue: Bay Ridge’s parade season in full swing

Who loves a parade? We do!

While Irish eyes continue to smile with fond memories of March’s annual Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Day Parade, excitement is already building for the next two marches scheduled to take place “on the avenue” in Bay Ridge. Indeed, parade season is upon us, according to members of the Merchants of Third Avenue Civic Improvement Association, Inc. — the entity that plays host to so many neighborhood favorites.

Chip Cafiero, who serves as parade formation coordinator for the majority of local marches, said he is looking forward to a successful parade season.

“This is one of the busiest and best times of year for Bay Ridge and, in particular, Third Avenue,” Cafiero said. “It starts with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, for which we thankfully had great weather this year, and then comes the Norwegian Day Parade followed by the Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade. Everyone gets really excited for both of those traditions, and it’s great for the avenue.”

Youngsters show their support at last year’s 17th of May Parade.

This year, the annual 17th of May Parade marking Norway’s independence is celebrating its 70th anniversary. The parade takes place May 19, beginning at 1 p.m. The special anniversary is expected to draw hundreds of participants to 85th Street on Third Avenue, where they will step off amid vintage Viking ships and other colorful and historical floats.

“We always draw a nice crowd of supporters — many from out of state who remember Brooklyn’s early Norwegian roots — and so many of them stay after the parade to enjoy lunch, dinner and shopping on Third Avenue,” Merchants of Third Avenue President Dan Texeira said. “It’s great for merchants because they are able to expose their businesses to an influx of visitors to the avenue during parade season.”

Just one week later, hundreds more parade lovers are expected to turn out to enjoy Brooklyn’s 157th Memorial Day Parade on May 27. A fundraiser for the parade will be held April 28 at Salty Dog Restaurant, 7509 Third Ave., beginning at 12:30 p.m. A $20 donation is requested. The event features raffles and live music all day from popular local bands like Whippoorwill, Sha-Doobie and Canny Brothers.

Huge crowds gathered outside Salty Dog Restaurant at last year’s 17th of May Parade. Incidentally, the popular eatery will host a fundraiser for the upcoming Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade April 28.

On parade day, marchers will step off promptly at 11 a.m. from Third Avenue and 78th Street, then proceed along Third Avenue to Marine Avenue, up to Fourth Avenue and over to John Paul Jones Park for a memorial service that includes bagpipes, a flag-raising, a wreath-laying led by veteran service organizations, a 21-gun salute by the Veteran Corps of Artillery and the playing of Taps.

Following these two historic parades, tens of thousands more visitors are expected to flock to both Third and Fifth avenues to enjoy Open Streets and Summer Stroll events. Then parade season resumes with the annual children’s Ragamuffin Parade and the Third Avenue Festival. Stay tuned for details on those events coming soon!

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