Third Ave. to be turned into pedestrian plaza
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Following a brainstorming session that took place on Monday, plans for the Third Annual Summer Stroll on 3rd are starting to take shape, with store owners on the commercial strip and Bay Ridge community leaders talking about entertaining the crowds with a scavenger hunt, a poetry slam and plenty of live music by everyone from doo-wop groups to barbershop quartets.
There was also talk at the Merchants of Third Avenue meeting on June 2 of holding a “blow-out” beauty competition among the avenue’s hair salons in which fans would vote for which stylist creates the best hair style for a customer.
“This is going to be out biggest and best Summer Stroll,” Merchants President Bob Howe predicted.
Summer Stroll on 3rd will take place on four Friday nights – July 18 and 26 and Aug. 8 and 15 – this summer. On July 18 and 25, the avenue will be turned into a pedestrian mall – no cars allowed – from 69th Street to 80th Street. Summer Stroll will move to the section of the avenue located between 80th and 90th streets on Aug. 8 and 15. On all four nights Summer Stroll hours will be 6-10:30 p.m. Howe said the idea is to give shoppers a chance to walk down the middle of the street, window shop, enjoy sipping a cappuccino in an outdoor café and enjoy listening to live music performed by local musicians.
Summer Stroll on 3rd is sponsored by the Merchants of Third Avenue, state Sen. Marty Golden, and Councilman Vincent Gentile and is run under the jurisdiction of the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) under its “Weekend Walks” program. Ray Riley, an aide to Golden, and Justin Brannan, an aide to Gentile, are working with the merchants group to organize Summer Stroll.
DOT approved plans for 15 Summer Stroll-type events around the city in 2013. This year, 38 have been given the go-ahead.
In Bay Ridge, merchants like Robert Long, owner of the Yellow Hook Grille, and Inna Trinidad, owner of the Kaleidoscope toy store, and Bay Ridge civic leaders, like Liz Amato, public relations committee chairman of Community Board 10, Karen Tadross, executive producer of Jeff Samaha Theater Productions/Ridge Chorale, and Victoria Hofmo, a member of the Bay Ridge Arts and Cultural Alliance, are in charge of planning and execution.
The purpose of the June 2 meeting, which took place at the Salty Dog restaurant-bar at 7509 Third Ave., was to allow the organizers exchange ideas on how to make this year’s Summer Stroll a memorable one. One of the goals of Sumer Stroll is to attract shoppers to the avenue and improve the business climate, Howe said.
If the meeting is any indication, the avenue will be buzzing with all sorts of activities on the Summer Stroll nights.
Lori Aidala Bambina, a community volunteer, said she is organizing a scavenger hunt. Hofmo said her group wants to host a poetry slam. Trinidad, who said a hula-hoop event in front of her toy store last year was a major success, is “going in that same direction again” this time around. “It’s all about fun for the children,” she said. Trinidad, who brought her baby daughter Alexandra to the meeting, is also creating a website for the Merchants to promote the Summer Stroll.
Brian Chin, a vice president of Northfield Bank, said the bank will be distributing free water bottles and raffling off free dinners at Third Avenue restaurants. Chris King, owner of The Kettle Black and Ho’Brah restaurants, said he plans to provide live music outside the eateries. Long also said his place, Yellow Hook Grille, would have live music on the summer stroll nights.
Storeowners were helping each other come up with ideas. Debra Rose, owner of Debra Rose Beauty Essential, suggested to two salon owners that they contact their fellow salon owners on the avenue to see if there is any interest in having a “blow-out” contest.
Narrows Community Theater and Ridge Chorale are among the arts groups that have both expressed an interest in performing at the Summer Stroll.
Christmas lights will be strung up along the avenue to give the Summer Stroll a festive feel Merchants member Courtney Sessa Flynn volunteered to coordinate the lighting program.
Howe and Merchants Executive Secretary Charles Otey said more meetings will be held to finalize the Summer Stroll plans.