By Lore Croghan
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
It was like arts and crafts time at summer camp – but with beer and terrific dance music.
Downtown Brooklyn's very own Secret Garden, hidden-away Grove Alley, held a party Friday evening that its host, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, called Makers Nite.
White lights on strings twinkled overhead while women in chic summer dresses hammered nails into a gigantic model dinosaur made of scrap lumber and a music meister named DJ Chele spun Michael Jackson and Bob Marley tunes.
“I like working with wood,” said Ashley Leone, 25, of Midwood. “As soon as I read about it, I said, 'We have to do this.'”
A record 2,640 guests turned out for the get-together in Grove Place, the dead-end block between Fulton Mall and Livingston Street that the partnership has been working since last year to transform into a mini-commercial corridor.
Before the free shindig, artists painted a new mural depicting multiple mazes — and provided chalk for guests to contribute add-ons.
“It's a great idea they're trying to clean the alley up little by little,” said one of the artists, Honee Jang, 23, of Clinton Hill.
Parents who brought their kids for the early end of the al fresco fête, which ran from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., had fun chalking up the wall with their small fry.
Sally Ryan, 38, who moved to Downtown Brooklyn from Chicago, admired the alley while 22-month-old daughter Charlie took a turn drawing on the wall.
“It has a nice tenement feel,” Sally said. “It's good they're taking it back instead of letting it deteriorate.”
Grown-ups did most of the the evening's artsy-craftsy stuff, though. This reporter has never been present at a party where so many saws and hammers were wielded. Ever.
“We were put on this earth to make art,” one guest said to another with no hint of irony in his tone.
The dinosaur that was the main focus of the night wound up being a work of whimsy, with artsy tidbits tacked onto it like a heart made mostly of nails. (Ouch.)
Caitlin Mannix, 25, of the Textile Arts Center in Park Slope taught guests to make mini-tapestries. Workers from Recycle-A-Bicycle in DUMBO showed them how to craft jewelry from itty-bitty bike parts. Hannah Robinett of Fort Greene jeweler Mynlyn worked on a cooperative art project by having revelers write down words indicating what Brooklyn means to them.
Roommates Esther Carpenter, 29, and Olivia Chen, 28, of Park Slope gave the alley a thumbs-up: “It has a legit sense of history,” said Chen.
One party-going family had business on the brain.
Robert Hebron Sr. and his son Robert F. Hebron IV and grandson Robert Hebron V of Ingram & Hebron Realty showed off a 3,926-square-foot ground floor and basement retail space, complete with a new alley-facing window, they are marketing for a blended rent of $45 per square foot.
Its street address is 297 Livingston St.
“The alley is a great thing,” said Robert Hebron Sr. “We feel it will enrich the neighborhood.”
By the way, fear not for the future fate of the dinosaur that party-goers built.
“The partnership will keep the dinosaur,” said Vivian Liao, the organization's director of marketing and strategic partnerships. “We'll do something fun. Look for it to pop up somewhere.”