Go ahead, take a summer stroll up Third Avenue! You can even walk in the middle of the street without worrying about a car hitting you. Cars? Forget about them! They’re banned from the avenue so that the entire street can be turned over to you for your enjoyment.
Plans are being finalized for the Third Annual Summer Stroll on 3rd, an outdoor event in which the busy commercial thoroughfare in Bay Ridge is turned into a Brooklyn version of the Piazza San Marco in Venice.
The first of four Summer Stroll nights is coming up on Friday, July 18. The avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. so that a pedestrian mall can be created. The first and second Summer Stroll events (the second is set for July 25) will take place from Bay Ridge Avenue to 80th Street. On Aug. 8 and 15, the southern end of the avenue, between 80th and 90th Streets, will get its turn to host the Summer Stroll.
Summer Stroll is designed to give shoppers the chance to stretch their legs, enjoy live music, hunt for bargains at a leisurely pace and sip cappuccinos in outdoor cafes.
Opera companies, folk singers and rock and rock and rollers will be out on the sidewalk to entertain pedestrians.
The Merchants of Third Avenue, a business organization representing store owners on the avenue, is working with state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southwest Brooklyn) and Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) to sponsor the Third Annual Summer Stroll on 3rd event.
“The enthusiasm is at an all time high. There is going to be a high level of participation from our merchants,” Bob Howe, president of the Merchants of Third Avenue, told the Brooklyn Eagle on Tuesday. “This is only our third year doing this and what amazes me is that Summer Stroll has already become a Bay Ridge institution.”
Summer Stroll is run under the auspices of the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) and is part of that agency’s Weekend Walks program, a citywide endeavor designed to give pedestrians the opportunity to enjoy city streets.
The storeowners of Bay Ridge have lots of treats in store for Summer Stroll visitors. In addition to strolling musicians, visitors can enjoy other things.
Jason McDermott, owner of The Pour House, a popular pub at 7901 on Third Ave., is a Summer Stroll block captain.
“We’re going to have a scavenger hunt. We did it last year and people really loved it,” McDermott told the Eagle.
Stores on every block of the Summer Stroll will take part in the scavenger hunt. Visitors will stop by a registry table, pick up a scavenger hunt bracelet, and receive a list of clues that will take them from store to store as they hunt for the hidden treasure.
“At the end of the night we’ll have seven winners,” McDermott said. “It’s a great thing for families. Last year, we had a great participation level. A lot of people got a kick out of it. We had families with kids, but we also had teenagers and older people.”
Deirdre Cronin Butler, owner of Paws Truly, a pet boutique at 7607 Third Ave., said she enjoyed being a clue in last year’s scavenger hunt. “People came in and I stamped their hand. It was fun!” she told the Eagle.
Cronin Butler has big plans for this year’s Summer Stroll. “We’re going to have Animal Rescue do a pet adoption air right outside my store. I’m hoping we can get some of these dogs loving homes,” she said.
She is looking forward to it. “We had such a good turnout for Summer Stroll last year. The first night, it rained and still we had a big crowd,” she said.
Dogs will be a big part of the festivities outside Debra Rose Beauty Essentials, a makeup store at 7622 Third Ave. Owner Debra Capone is organizing a doggie talent contest and is looking for contestants.
“It’s going to be a fun thing. We wanted to do something different. We’re asking people, ‘Let’s see what your dog can do.’ We want more than a dog that can roll over by himself. A dog that can shake your hand and give you a high-five, now that’s a talented dog!” she told the Eagle.
Capone added however, that potential contestants shouldn’t be intimidated.
“We don’t expect miracles. If your dog has a little talent, like if he can push the ball with his nose across the room, come on down! It’s all in the spirit of fun,” she said.
The Summer Stroll serves a useful purpose for merchants, according to Cronin Butler. “I think it gives a shopper a chance to visit a store at their leisure, see what a storeowner is all about, and make a return visit. Sometimes, when you’re driving by in your car, you don’t stop to see all of the wonderful stores we have here on Third Avenue,” she said.
Christmas lights have already been strung up along the avenue to give the Summer Stroll a festive feel. Merchants member Courtney Sessa Flynn volunteered to coordinate the lighting program.