Bay Ridge’s Summer Stroll on Third Avenue is back for a four-weekend celebration through July and August, and the season kicked off on Friday, July 8, delighting organizers, merchants, and neighbors.
Daniel Texeira, president of the Merchants of Third Avenue, said the event gives merchants the opportunity to go out on the street and entice the neighborhood with music, art, dance and more.
“Last Friday’s stroll, the weather was a little crummy at 6 o’clock but after the rain stopped, people came. There were thousands of people running around the street there. It was really nice, the weather turned out nice,” Texeira said. “It’s a lot of fun. The kids run around, there’s kids on scooters, kids on bikes. People come out. Families come out just to enjoy the car-free avenue.”
Aunt Butchies Dessert, a local bakery that’s been a staple for 29 years, invited some passersby to an inaugural cheesecake eating tournament. Frank Santo, owner of the shop, says he was a bit apprehensive about the tournament but it ended up doubling their business for the day. New York based comedian, Lil “Mo” Mozzarella, emceed the contest and attracted tons of children.
“The DJ approached me about doing a cheesecake eating contest and I went along with it unwillingly but it turned out great,” Santo said. “We were getting no contestants so I [offered] $500 towards the winner, before you know it there were 10 people wanting to do it but we only had six seats. The amazing part is, there was nobody there [but] by the time the [contest] started, there were about 500 people there.”
He feels what makes the stroll different from a typical festival is the carefree environment and shops that cater to all ages.
“You’re not pressured, you just walk the street, have a drink, eat something, so it’s nice,” Santo said.
The stroll proved to be an example of local camaraderie as many community members sponsor the event and come out to support local businesses every weekend. Councilmember Justin Brannan, the New York City Police Department’s 68th Precinct, and the city’s departments of sanitation and buildings all provide “vital” support to the event, according to their website.
“We had a bunch of city agencies that came out,” Texeira said. “We had the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce who were very helpful to us.”
Summer Stroll will continue on Third Avenue on July 22 from the blocks of 83rd Street and Marine Avenue, Aug. 5 from 68th Street to 83rd Street and lastly on Aug. 19 from 83rd Street to Marine Avenue.
To find out more about the Summer Stroll on Third Avenue, visit the official event webpage.