Bastille Day: The oh-so-mellow storming of Smith Street

July 17, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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By Mary Frost

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

The biggest Bastille Day celebration in the U.S. drew roughly 20,000 revelers to Smith Street in Boerum Hill on Sunday for a mellow day of French food, music, drinks and most of all, the international petanque tournament.

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Petanque similar to bocce, but with metal “boules” and a small wooden ball, or “pig” — is played with Gallic insouciance, often while sipping a glass of pastis (Ricard’s anise-flavored French apéritif).

Smith Street was transformed for the day, with 12 cubic yards of sand spread over several blocks by a 1961 Mack Truck concrete mixer, courtesy of the Quadrozzi Concrete Company.

Photo by Josh Gordon

“It was wonderful,” event founder Bette Stoltz of the South Brooklyn Local Development Corporation told the Brooklyn Eagle. “I just heard so many good comments; everybody said it is absolutely their favorite street event. There were so many smiles and people were nice to each other. The police said there were no incidents at all. It was just a great day.”

Milton and his band. Photo by Mary Frost.

“It’s petanque, it’s pastis, it’s fun — Vive la Revolution!” Christophe Haxaire, one of the owners of founding restaurant Bar Tabac, told the Brooklyn Eagle last week. Bar Tabac provided tables, dining and nonstop music on Dean Street, while several petanque courts, music and food were also set up by restaurant Provence en Boite on DeGraw Street.

The guillotine, symbol of French justice. Photo by Mary Frost.Stoltz said that French Consul General M. Philippe Lalliot “was happy to see Franco-American relations doing so well, especially in a neighborhood with so many French.”

According to the French Consulate, roughly 3,000 French families live in the Community Board 6 neighborhoods, said Stoltz. The area is sometimes called “Little France.”

“It’s one of those things that makes New York great,” Stoltz said, adding a phrase that has received much press lately, “It was très Brooklyn.”Photo by Josh Gordon

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