By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Vaulting over spring, the Merchants of Third Avenue business group is looking ahead to summer.
The organization, which represents the interests of hundreds of storeowners on the commercial strip between 69th and 94th streets in Bay Ridge, is meeting on Tuesday, April 22, to begin mapping out plans for another Summer Stroll on 3rd this year.
The Summer Stroll strategy session will take place at the Greenhouse Café, 7717 Third Ave., at 6:15 p.m. The regular meeting of the Merchants of Third Avenue will follow at 7 p.m.
This year will park the Third Annual Summer Stroll on 3rd event by the Merchants. Under the Summer Stroll concept, a stretch of the avenue is closed to vehicular traffic on four Friday nights – two in July and two in August – allowing pedestrians to stroll, dine in sidewalk cafes, window shop, and enjoy music from performers stationed at various points along the route.
The event turns the avenue into a piazza worthy of Venice.
There will be entertainment on nearly every block, including performances by opera companies and folk-rock bands, organizers said. Visitors can enjoy art exhibits, poetry readings, and games for kids.
This year, the Merchants are hoping to add two more nights to the Summer Stroll calendar, so that the event takes place over six nights. The tentative dates are July 11, 18 and 25, and August 8, 15 and 22.
The Merchants, led by President Bob Howe, are working with Ray Riley, an aide to state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) and Justin Brannan, an aide to Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-parts of Bensonhurst) on preparations for the event. Riley and Brannan have been serving as liaisons between the Merchants and city officials. Street events like the Summer Stroll require permits from the city.
"The community is looking forward to another great Summer Stroll, with music, activities for children, and an opportunity for small businesses and restaurants along Third Avenue to showcase what makes our community so great. With a tentative schedule of 6 nights this year, we hope to expand what is quickly shaping up to be a Bay Ridge summer tradition. With final dates being finalized over the next few weeks, the Merchants, Justin and I are looking forward to July and August, and we look forward to seeing all our neighbors and the community out on Third Avenue," Riley told the Brooklyn Eagle.
In an email to the Eagle, Brannan wrote that the plans are shaping up well. “Since last year was such a smashing success, we are focused on expanding Summer Stroll this year to six nights, with three nights on each end of Third Avenue. It’s really shaping up to be the best year yet,” he wrote.
Brannan, the co-owner of The Art Room, an art gallery and school at 8710 Third Ave., wrote that as a small business owner, he believes the summer stroll attracts shoppers and is “a great addition to the sometimes sleepy summer season.”