All a bad dream: Public backlash leads NRA to free Grand Prospect Hall owner from hosting fund-raiser

All a bad dream: Public backlash leads NRA to free Grand Prospect Hall owner from hosting fund-raiser
Community News Group / Colin Mixson

His nightmare is over.

A local National Rifle Association chapter let the owner of Park Slope’s Grand Prospect Hall off the hook for hosting a controversial fund-raiser in the face of overwhelming backlash against the businessman.

The man made famous by his televised promise to “make your dreams come true” announced the firearm aficionados voided their contract for the event hours after he confirmed he would welcome their April bash, an invitation that led irate locals and politicians to promise demonstrations against the venue.

“The people in charge were understanding of my plight — my difficulty,” said Michael “Mr. H” Halkias, who with his wife has owned the hall at 263 Prospect Ave. for 37 years. “I had to make a very serious decision, so I’m relieved by their response to the contractual agreement I had with them.”

Halkias — who books his gilded venue for events beyond traditional weddings and parties in order to pay the rising property taxes on it — agreed to host the April 12 fund-raiser for The Brooklyn Friends of the National Rifle Association after gun-control activists ran the group out of Coney Island, where a plan to host the bash at iconic Italian eatery Gargiulo’s fell apart when that restaurant’s owners backed out of their deal in the face of public resistance.

And the hall owner originally told this newspaper on Monday that breaking his commitment to the pistol packers for anything short of a court order would be cowardly.

“I’ll be a bad guy — a scared, yellow guy who chickened out,” Halkias said.

But after eliciting a similar response from pols including Borough President Adams along with Park Slope’s Councilman Brad Lander and Assemblyman Robert Carroll, who that same day assured they were “prepared to protest if the NRA comes into our community,” Halkias recognized the democratic forces at work and within hours reconsidered his decision in light of the people’s reactions, he said.

“Democracy works very well in the sense that the majority wins over the minority,” he said. “I never told you I’m insane, or that I lack flexibility or fairness. If you prove to me that you’re right, I’m going to flex.”
Halkias, who lives in Bay Ridge and has owned firearms, said he first agreed to welcome the local gun lovers because he wanted to help them out after they were booted from Coney Island.

“For me its not ‘the NRA,’ it’s a bunch of nice people from Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst who were screwed for no real reason,” he said.

But the businessman later acknowledged that the concerns of his neighbors — who also promised rallies outside Grand Prospect Hall if the venue went through with the fund-raiser — mattered more than his bottom line.

“In Park Slope they feel a certain way, and it’s fair for them to win,” he said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.