By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
It was a weekend of fun, smiles, music, food, and lots of laughter!
The Ragamuffin Parade for children and the Third Avenue Festival, the two biggest events on the fall calendar in Bay Ridge, took place over the Sept. 29-30 weekend, bringing hundreds of thousands of people to the avenue and putting ear to ear grins on the faces of the young and the young at heart.
First up was the Ragamuffin Parade on Saturday, Sept. 29. Thousands of colorfully costumed kids proudly marched up Third Avenue to the applause of thousands of spectator lining the parade route.
“It was exciting,” said John Abi-Habib, the Ragamuffin Man of the Year, who marched at the head of the parade with his wife Sonia and their children. Abi-Habib, president and C.E.O. of M.S.I. Net Inc., said one of the best things about marching up front was getting to the reviewing stand on Third Avenue and 91st Street and enjoying the opportunity of sitting down and watching the parade from there. “It was wonderful to look back and see all of the thousands of children coming up the avenue,” he said.
Also marching at the head of the parade was the grand marshal, Arlene Figaro, principal of Visitation Academy, a Catholic school for girls. Figaro received an enormous amount of support from her students. Hundreds of girls marched behind her chanting “Vi-si-ta-tion!”
The parade also featured a costume contest. A panel of judges looked over the children’s outfits and awarded bicycles to the youngsters with the best costumes. The winners (and their costumes) were: Brodie Clark, age 3, (Zombie Doctor); Maya LeCroix, age 9, (Car Freshener); Minna Blankenship, age 13 (Tree Spirit); Sean Solitario, age 4, (Batman with Batmobile); Jaiden Azzopardi, age 9, (Chef) and Faith Schemder, age 3 (Pirate on a Pirate Ship).
The fun didn’t end Saturday. It was just beginning!
On Sunday, it was time for Bay Ridge to roll out the red carpet again. The Third Avenue Festival took place along the avenue from 69th Street to 94th Street from noon to 6 p.m.
A gigantic street fair, the festival had something for everyone – rides and games for kids, outdoor concert stages, sidewalk cafes, sausage and pepper sandwiches, popcorn, sidewalk sales, an antique car show, cotton candy, even pole dancing!
“It was one of our best festivals ever!” Charles Otey, festival chairman said. The festival, sponsored by the Merchants of Third Avenue, an organization representing store owners on the avenue, has taken place every year for three decades.
“Everyone had a great time. And our merchants told us people were coming into their stores to shop even before the festival opened,” Otey said.