By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A 10-block stretch of Third Avenue will become a piazza worthy of Venice on Friday night, with no cars, but plenty of room for pedestrians to stroll, window shop, grab a bite to eat, and enjoy outdoor musical performances.
It’s all part of the Second Annual Summer Stroll on 3rd, a street event hosted by the Merchants of Third Avenue and Bay Ridge’s elected officials. The idea is to get people to come and enjoy the ambiance of Third Avenue with its nice cafes and trendy, Hamptons-like shops, according to organizers.
Sections of the avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic on four nights, starting July 19. The first summer stroll event of 2013 will take place this Friday on Third Avenue between 80th and 90th Streets, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
There will be entertainment on nearly every block, including performances by opera companies and folk-rock bands, organizers said. Visitors can enjoy art exhibits, poetry readings, and games for kids.
The first Summer Stroll on 3rd took place across four nights during the summer of 2012. The event was such a major success, despite rain storms on two of the four nights, that the Merchants group was eager to do it again, organizers said.
There will also be Summer Stroll events this year on July 24, Aug. 9, and Aug. 16. The Bay Ridge Odyssey reported that the action will be split up this year so that merchants on many parts of the avenue can participate.
The blocks between 80th and 90th streets will have Summer Stroll again on July 21, but on Aug. 9 and Aug. 16, the avenue will be closed to traffic from 80th Street to 69th Street as the fun moves north.
Another change this year, according to the Bay Ridge Courier, is that musicians will be able to use amplifiers, which were a no-no last year. Amplifiers were banned because the event's organizers were going for a more acoustic sound.
Bina Valenzano, an officer in the Merchants of Third Avenue, is the coordinator of the Summer Stroll events. Valenzano is the co-owner of the Book Mark Shoppe, a book store on the avenue.
Bay Ridge’s Summer Stroll series is part of the New York City Department of Transportation’s Weekend Walks program designed to “enhance the public realm in commercial districts citywide,” the agency’s website states.
This year, 23 Weekend Walks sites in all five boroughs will hold events from now to October. Each event is organized and hosted by a local partner, and features a number of activities, including music, arts and crafts, classes, and youth programming.