By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A belly dancer, a pizza-eating contest, a wine tasting, live music, children’s rides and games, sausage stands and balloon animals are all things that you won't usually find in the same sentence. But they were all part of the sights and sounds on Bay Ridge’s Fifth Avenue on Sunday.
Hundreds of thousands of people are turned out to enjoy the 21st Annual Fifth Avenue Spring Festival, a spectacular street fair sponsored by the Bay Ridge Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District (BID). The festival, a celebration of spring, takes place each year in early June.
“I got the weather I wanted!” BID Jim Clark told the Brooklyn Eagle as he walked along the avenue with BID Executive Director Patrick Condren. The BID, which has an office at 8114 Fifth Ave., represents the interests of hundreds of property owners and merchants on the busy, commercial avenue.
Held under perfect weather conditions with sunny skies and comfortable temperatures, the festival stretched along Fifth Avenue from 69th Street to 85th Street. Visitors got the chance to stroll the avenue to shop for bargains (Fifth Avenue boasts hundreds of stores), sit in outdoor cafes and sip cappuccinos, and hear live music played by local Brooklyn bands.
The festival highlights included: a performance by a belly dancer on a stage set up next to LaSajj, a Middle Eastern restaurant; a pizza eating contest outside Rocco’s Pizzeria; and a karaoke contest outside the Bean Post Pub.
The Guild for Exceptional Children held a sale of handmade ceramic items. The Bay Ridge Historical Society had a George Washington impersonator welcoming visitors to its table. Workers outside Having A Party, a party supply store, twisted balloons into creative shapes that looked like animals. And bands like August on Sunday entertained a steady stream of crowds outside the Hideout, a popular local bar.
Community organizations and elected officials set up information tables along the festival route to let the public know about their activities.
The festival route was filled with sidewalk cafes, sausage stands, crepe stands and stands selling corn on the cobb and every kind of food imaginable.
There were also several flea markets on the avenue selling everything from picture frames to T-shirts.
The goal of the festival, according to Clark, is to promote Fifth Avenue as an attractive destination for Brooklyn shoppers. Merchants told Clark they hoped that many of the folks who came to check out Fifth Avenue for the first on Sunday will return to Bay Ridge to shop and dine at a later date.