By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Bay Ridge welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors on Sunday, as the 39th Annual Third Avenue Festival took place, offering pedestrians a variety of sights, sounds and fun-filled experiences including sidewalk sales, concerts, dance performances, outdoor cafes, kiddie rides and carnival games, and more.
A 23-block section of Third Avenue, from 69th Street to 92nd Street, was closed to traffic so that pedestrians could walk in the street and stop at booths at their leisure. The festival started at noon and ended at 6 p.m.
The event, sponsored by the Merchants of Third Avenue business group, is one of the highlights of the fall season in Bay Ridge, along with the children’s Ragamuffin Parade, a costume march which traditionally takes place the day before.
The festival featured a pet adoption fair, a belly dancing demonstration, raffles, face painting and plenty of food.
Several of Third Avenue’s restaurants set up sidewalk cafes offering diners delicious dishes to savor.
“We have the largest, yet the most intimate, festival in the city,” said Charles Otey, chairman of the festival and Brooklyn Daily Eagle columnist.
The Merchants group strives for local participation in the event, according to Otey, who said that storeowners, civic groups and religious institutions were encouraged to take part in the festival.
The Gateway Church presented a gospel music concert. Bands like the Social Zoo had crowds rocking. Students from David Boody Intermediate School danced to raise money for cancer research. Schools like Bishop Kearney High School, a Catholic school for girls, set up information tables to tell visitors about the school. Groups like the Bayfort Benevolent Association, the Bay Ridge Consumer Federation and the Bay Ridge Historical Society saw a steady stream of people stop by their tables seeking information.
Along with the sidewalk cafes, the festival also had lots of sausage stands, as well as stands selling corn on the cob, fried Oreos, lemonade, cotton candy and crepes.
Candidates running for public office strolled along the festival route meeting voters and chatting with merchants. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle spotted Ken Thompson, Democrat running for Brooklyn district attorney, who was walking with a group of supporters that included former councilman Sal Albanese and Bay Ridge Democratic District Leader Kevin Peter Carroll. Charles Hynes, the man who currently serves as DA and who just re-entered the race last week to run as a Republican, was also at the festival. His supporters included state Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn).
Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heigths-Bensonhurst), a Democrat who is running for re-election, walked the festival route with supporters, as did his Republican opponent, John Quaglione.
But not all elected officials were politicking. Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island), who owns two dogs, join the group Pet Lovers United Together as One (P.L.U.T.O.) to co-host a pet adoption event on the corner of Third Avenue and 74th Street.