Theater groups, dance troupes, jazz trios highlight Bay Ridge event
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Bella Voce Singers attracted large crowds of admirers as they sang Italian songs on the street. So did Narrows Community Theater, whose members performed Broadway show tunes. And everyone who watched the Benito Bravo Dance Company perform was talking about the dance troupe’s orange, yellow, and white costumes.
The arts were the main attraction at the Third Annual Summer Stroll on 3rd in Bay Ridge, which began on July 18. Everywhere you looked, there were singers and dancers to see and enjoy. There was also an outdoor art gallery, courtesy of Gallery 364, a Bay Ridge exhibition hall, which had dozens of paintings and photos by local artists on display on tables.
As part of Summer Stroll, an 11-block section of Third Avenue, from Bay Ridge Avenue to 80th Street, was closed to traffic on Friday night to allow pedestrians to walk in the middle of the street at their leisure, enjoy drinks and dinner at one of the many outdoor cafes set up by restaurant owners along the route, and see great live performances by local talents.
Sitting at a sidewalk café outside Yellow Hook Grille, Joanne Cella looked like she was on top of the world. “This is so nice,” she told the Brooklyn Eagle. Her tablemates, Kevin, Cella, Mike Sgror, Tim O’Neill and Marie O’Neill, agreed. As they ate dinner, a jazz trio provided musician accompaniment to their meal.
The activities took place on a night with perfect weather. No heat. No humidity. There was a cool, soft breeze in the air. Adding to the ambience was a series of lights strewn across the avenue. The twinkling lights, depicting flower pots, helped to give the avenue the feel of a piazza in Venice.
“This night is turning out to be everything we wanted it to be,” Bob Howe, president of the Merchants of Third Avenue, told the Eagle.
The Merchants, a business group representing storeowners on the busy, commercial thoroughfare, sponsors Summer Stroll on 3rd and works in partnership with local elected officials like state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southwest Brooklyn) and Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) to pull the whole thing off. It takes months of planning to organize a street fair such as this one.
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 open up the streets to pedestrians. There are Weekend Walks events all over the city this summer. For information, visit DOT’s website at http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/weekendwalks/html/find/find.shtml.
For some family fun, Third Avenue storeowners organized a scavenger hunt and held a doggie talent show. There was also a pet adoption van on the street.
Friday marked the first of four nights a section of Third Avenue would be closed to vehicular traffic so that a pedestrian mall could be created.
On Friday, July 25, a second Summer Stroll night will take place, also on Third Avenue between Bay Ridge Avenue and 80th Street. The following Summer Stroll events, set for Aug. 8 and Aug. 15, will take place between 80th and 90th streets.
For more information, visit the Merchants’ Summer Stroll page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SummerStrollon3rd.