For one week every fall, residents of Bay Ridge set aside their differences to do what they do best — party.
This year was no different. With three unique festivals in seven days, the party felt like it never ended. But taken together the celebrations remind us all of why life at the end of the R continues to be Brooklyn’s best-kept secret.
The secret can be boiled down to two things that in this case go hand in hand: diversity and food.
This year’s grub-fest kicked off last weekend with The Holy Cross Greek Cultural Festival, a three-day event which began on Friday, Sept. 21, and showcased our community’s prominent Greek presence.
Locals who wondered down to Ridge Boulevard found traffic closed from 86th to 84th streets for the most-famous (and perhaps only) loukoumades-eating contest in Brooklyn, not to mention live Greek music, rides, and plenty of ouzo (which is an anise-flavored liqueur best known for inebriating generations of uninitiated backpacker tourists).
But this party wasn’t just for toga-lovers
Last Saturday’s Ragamuffin Parade featured a scene that was equal parts Sesame Street and David Lynch, as an army of three-foot tall King Kongs, Dora the Explorers, Batmans (Batmen?), and Little Mermaids dutifully marched down the street together in the 41st annual installment.
The sight was beautiful as it was macabre, with children (some soaked in fake monster blood) taking over Third Avenue (“Children of the Corn,” anyone?) as adults stood in the background, only coming out to occasionally steer their costumed tykes away from the overpriced balloon merchants.
If that wasn’t enough fun, the next day’s Third Avenue festival featured plenty of food, not to mention a minor street-side political convention.
All the local pols had similar pitches, offering small bribes like tote bags and stickers in exchange for e-mail addresses — but the most original may have been the Brooklyn Democrats for Change, which offered Bazooka Joe chewing gum (the ones with the comics) to those brave enough to fork over contact info.
But the festivals were about more than really great food, creative costumes, and sketchy-looking rides: these 10 days were a kaleidoscope of shapes, colors, and smells that strike at one of humanity’s few remaining common denominators, resonating right at an instinctual core within all of us (besides hunger) — the need for whimsical celebrations.
The concept of celebrating our existence, for the sake of existing, isn’t something that is too common in this day of age, and it is an overall feeling that is carried throughout Bay Ridge most of the year — a communal vibe, if you will.
In a town where outsiders paint us as fractured along political and cultural lines, the festivals showcased our harmonious diversity, where everyone sets aside his differences in the name of funnel cakes and falafels.
That should be a big part of the reason Bay Ridge is a community that finds itself worthy of celebrating, again, and again, and again.
But just don’t tell anyone.
It’s our secret.
Matthew Lysiak is a writer who lives in Bay Ridge.
The Kitchen Sink
Funny little footnote to last week’s story about Councilman Domenic Recchia’s challenge to five-term Rep. Vito Fossella: The Congressman’s campaign staff quickly pounced on Recchia’s out-of-district address, but The Sink couldn’t help but notice that the phone number for the Committee to Re-Elect Vito Fossella has a 703 area code — that’s Virginia, folks. …
Overheard on Sunday at Salty Dog, the firefighter bar on Third Avenue between 75th and 76th streets: “I will never watch another Mets game so long as I live,” one dejected fan screamed at the big screen as the Marlins put up seven in the top of the first. “Or at least I won’t until next year.” …
Poly Prep completed a $4.5-million upgrade of its track and athletic fields. The new field is now covered with something called Mondoturf Ecofill, a rubber substitute that retains about 20 degrees less heat than black rubber, supposedly lowering athletes’ fatigue. …
The tornado-ravaged Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church, which is at Fourth Avenue near 67th Street, will be holding a concert/fundraiser in the sanctuary on Sunday, Oct. 21 at 4 pm. The event will feature songs and duets by Elizabeth Inghram and Douglas Jabara and the suggested donation is $30, but everyone is welcome. Rev. David Aja-Sigmon has been busy praying overtime, especially since he is a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan and now those loveable losers are in the playoffs.