For Bay Ridge residents, fall isn’t just about football, a new school year, and the Yankees making the playoffs — it also means the return of two of the neighborhood’s most beloved annual events.
The Ragamuffin Parade, a pre-Haloween costumed kids cavalcade, will step off for the 46th time on Saturday, a tradition that’s come a long way since the late Reverend James McKenna suggested Bay Ridge kids dress up in their parents’ old clothes and hunt down treats near Our Lady of Angels Church at the corner of 73rd Street and Fourth Avenue decades ago.
“It’s grown by leaps and bounds,” said parade organizer and spokesman Ted General, noting that the parade now has become a full-fledged costume contest with a much longer route that stretches along Third Avenue from 76th Street to 92nd streets.
General said contest judges will be walking around as the kids line up, picking out six lucky winners to give bicycles to when the parade ends at the HSBC parking lot on 92nd Street. Judges tend to prefer paraders with original costumes and homemade, ragamuffin-like duds.
“Ideally, the judges are looking for kids who put together a rag-tag costume since that’s the whole idea” said General. “The more creative they are, the better.”
All kids who join in the parade will get some kind of small prize, said General, who is expecting more than 4,000 participants at his favorite Bay Ridge event.
“It’s one of the largest youth events in Southwest Brooklyn — and it’s great because it’s exclusively for children,” General said. “It gives the kids a great day out in the sun as well as some recognition.”
But the fun won’t end there. The next day, Third Avenue will host its annual street festival from 69th to 93rd streets. Organizers say their street fair stands out from similar festivals because it focuses on the businesses that call the avenue home.
“Other festivals are run by an outside group, but we are a merchant-driven festival,” said Robert Howe, president of the Third Avenue Merchants Association.
But food-truck lovers shouldn’t despair: organizer Chip “Festival Guy” Cafiero said he’s got some special outside vendors lined up, including a few Middle Eastern cuisine spots, a “Cheese Munchies” wagon that will sell dairy-slathered sandwiches and tacos, and a soda station designed to look like a firehouse, where guests can fill up on their favorite sugary carbonated drinks (just don’t tell Mayor Bloomberg).
“This festival has everything. There’s plenty of food, plenty of outdoor cafés, and there’s some real unique stuff coming in,” said Cafiero. “In the average festival, people will go for two hours and leave. Here, people stay for the day.”
Ragamuffin Parade [Corner of 76th Street and Third Avenue in Bay Ridge] on Sept. 29, 1 pm. Registration will be held at Our Lady of Angels parking lot on 73rd Street between Third and Fourth avenues at 11 am.
Bay Ridge Third Avenue Festival [Third Avenue from 69th Street to 93rd Street in Bay Ridge] Sept 30, noon.