Lively and bombastic, Ed Koch loved marching in parades because they gave him a chance to interact with everyday New Yorkers. Spectators would shout greetings from the sidewalk and he would shout right back.
That’s the recollection of Patrick Condren, executive director of two local business improvement districts, the 86th Street Bay Ridge BID and the Bay Ridge Fifth Avenue BID. Condren was a friend of Koch’s.
Koch marched in the Children’s Ragamuffin Parade in Bay Ridge, an annual event featuring thousands of kids in homemade costumes, nearly every year during his reign as mayor, Condren said. The parade was, and still is, held Third Avenue.
As a local business leader, Condren was always marching alongside Koch.
“He was a super guy to be in a parade with. To walk along Third Avenue with Ed Koch in a parade was a great thing,” said Condren, who was president of the Third Avenue Merchants Association and owned a travel agency in the 1980s, when Koch was at City Hall.
Koch visited Bay Ridge often, according to Condren. “Bay Ridge was a microcosm of what he wanted the entire city to be,” Condren said. Bay Ridge was a solid, middle class, low crime neighborhood with a strong business community.
Condren described Koch as a big supporter of small businesses and said the mayor often looked for ways to make their lives easier.
Koch also had tremendous curiosity, Condren said. “He always asked a lot of questions when he came here. He wanted to know what new stores were opening. He wanted to know about the people who lived here, what their lives were like. He was very inquisitive,” he said.