By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
On one of the hottest nights of the year, Third Avenue in Bay Ridge was one of the coolest places to be.
As temperatures soared above the 95-degree mark on July 19, thousands of people came to the Bay Ridge shopping strip to stroll, sit in an outdoor café and listen to music from local bands strumming guitars outside stores.
It was all part of Summer Stroll on 3rd, an outdoor fair sponsored by the Merchants of Third Avenue, the business group representing more than 250 shopkeepers on the avenue.
With permission from the New York City Department of Transportation, the Merchants closed 10 blocks of Third Avenue (between 80th and 90th streets) to vehicular traffic so that pedestrians could stroll in the middle of the street and enjoy the evening.
“It’s a great crowd, considering how hot it is,” Merchants President Bob Howe told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
The street fair was devoid of sausage stands, carnival games, sock vendors and other amenities that have come to be associated with street festivals. Instead, the mood was light, yet festive. Summer Stroll Chairman Bina Valenzano had lights strung up over the avenue to give the street a feeling of being a piazza in Venice.
The sidewalk cafes offered pedestrians a chance to sip a soda, eat a salad and take a rest. Kate Jones and her husband Richard brought their infant son, Richard, to Third Avenue Friday night. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle caught up with them as they were seated in a cafe outside Nonno Pizza at 8816 Third Ave.
The Summer Stroll event gave some prominent Bay Ridge residents a chance to show off their casual, even funky sides. Bob Hudock, a member of both the Community Education Council of School District 20 and Community Board 10, strummed his guitar and played rock songs with his band.
Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10, who helped the Merchants with the paperwork they submitted to the city to get the permit for the event, looked relaxed as she strolled up the avenue with her husband John and their two daughters, Jayne and Annemarie.
Friday night was the first of four Summer Stroll events the Merchants are planning for this summer. The next one is set for Friday, July 26. There are also two Summer Strolls scheduled for August, on Aug. 9 and 16. But the street closures will be different. On those dates, the avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic from 69th Street to 80th Street.