By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The victims of Hurricane Sandy were on the minds and in the hearts of the Merchants of Third Avenue and guests at the business group’s 19th Annual Pioneer Awards reception Monday night in Bay Ridge. Not only did the organization’s leaders postpone the reception for one week, from Oct. 29 to Nov. 5, but they also dedicated the evening to a hurricane relief effort.
Guests were encouraged to bring clothing, canned food, toiletries, and other supplies to the party at Café Remy on Third Avenue
“We will rebuild. We are Brooklyn!” said Borough President Marty Markowitz.
Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny (D-Bay Ridge-Coney Island-Brighton Beach), whose home sustained massive damage in the storm, said seeing all of the volunteers who came by the hundreds to help hurricane victims warmed his heart and made him proud to be an American.
The reception, one of the highlights of the fall social calendar in Bay Ridge, drew a large crowd, despite the post-hurricane relief efforts around the city. The winners of the Pioneer Awards were presented by Merchants President Bob Howe and Pioneer Event Co-chairman Charles Otey.
The Pioneers, Class of 2012, are: Jason McDermott and James Whiffin, owners of the Pour House, a popular pub at 7901 Third Ave.; Bina Valenzo, co-owner of the BookMark Shoppe, a bookstore at 8415 Third Ave.; and Dr. Roy Blash, headmaster at Adelphi Academy, a private school at 8515 Ridge Boulevard.
Two other recipients were saluted at the reception. Rick Buttacavoli was presented with a Civic Award in honor of the contributions he has made during his 10 years in community journalism. A Civic Award was also presented to Lori Pedone, an advertising executive with the Home Reporter and Brooklyn Spectator newspapers.
Linda Allegretti, founder of the Shore Road Parks Conservancy, was named the “Mystery Pioneer” and said she was delighted to receive an award. “It’s an honor,” she said.
The Merchants of Third Avenue represents more than 300 store owners on the commercial strip between 68th and 95th Streets.
The reception also featured “Taste of Third Avenue,” in which restaurant owners bring trays of their most delicious dishes to the event and give everyone a chance to sample them.