The 2023 Vanderbilt Avenue Open Street season starts this Friday, and temperatures reaching the high 60s this weekend make for the right time for this year’s programs to kick off on the avenue.
Each weekend all the way to October, the six-block stretch of restaurants, cafes and shops between Atlantic Avenue and Park Place will be closed to cars to make way for seating areas, entertainment, and community hangouts. Construction will take place on those same blocks, but work will take place on weekdays and interference with the programming is expected to be “minimal,” but local businesses might be affected.
After it first started in mid-summer of 2020, Open Streets has brought thousands of Brooklynites and visitors outside to enjoy performances, games and food, but new features are coming this year. More and new shows will expand onto the recently inaugurated Underhill Plaza.
“It’s a really great space,” said Katherine Pangaro, chair of the Vanderbilt Avenue Open Streets Committee. “It is car-free for kids and people of all ages to hang to have a nice safe space, and we are going to have a lot of activities there. There will be new performances, things to engage more parts of the community to be as inclusive as we can, as diverse in terms of the kind of classes and the kind of entertainment. We are trying to get a little something for everybody. Everything else is just sort of continuing to try and expand on what we’ve done in the past.”
For the second time, the non-profit will be offering payment to entertainers. The organization is still receiving applications from potential performers.
The Open Streets Committee has received funds from grants, an ongoing GoFundMe that has raised over $3,000 out of a $20,000 goal, donations from the community and small sponsors from out throughout the neighborhood.
“We don’t have the money to pay people what we would love to pay them, but we to offer honor for all of our performers,” said Pangaro.
The organizer is confident that construction wont interfere with the experiences attendees can expect. According to the city, a portion of the water and sewer system needs upgrading to accommodate new apartment complexes going up near Barclays Center at Pacific Park, formerly Atlantic Yards.
On weekdays, swaths of the street will be removed to allow construction vehicles to access Vanderbilt Avenue and dig it up, occasionally shutting off water completely.
The city is also asking restaurants to remove their outdoor dining sheds at their own expense. Owners also haven’t yet been given a concrete timeline on how long they could be left without water for long periods of the day.
“At this point it is hard to interpret what’s gonna happen and when,” said Pangaro, but the organizer said some of the work will take place in front of the McDonald’s at the corner of Atlantic Avenue. “It will confuse traffic and it will make it less safe for the cyclists. We usually close that block and we actually use that block a lot for programming.”
This year’s event will start with a concert by the Brass Queens marching south on Vanderbilt Avenue this Friday at 6 p.m. On April 22, Earth Day, the open street’s schedule is packed with themed events.
Six times throughout the summer, there will be a Salsa Social — a big salsa class, and opportunities to dance in addition to a skate workshop with Mike New York, where people can learn how to skate or ride bicycles.
From Pacific through Park Place, there will be restaurants set ups on the street, cafés and bars to enjoy beverages and the summer breeze. The Vanderbilt Avenue Open Street is open Fridays 5-10 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays 12-10 p.m., April 21-Oct. 29.