Sunset Park gears up for annual street festival

September 12, 2014 Jaime DeJesus
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Party like it’s 1999.

On September 14, the Sunset Park Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) will host its annual street festival. The traditional shindig, which spans Fifth Avenue from 44th Street to 59th Street and goes on from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., is expected to draw its typical big crowds thanks to various games, food, shopping, musical performances and rides for the kids.

“We’ve been doing the festival since 1999,” said Renée Giordano, executive director of the Sunset Park BID. “At the beginning, we had a company doing it for us.” Three years later, the BID started working with local community activist Chip Cafiero. Since then, the office has handled the popular event, to impressive results.

“The crowds that come are nice ones,” Giordano went on. “We’ve never have any incidents. People start coming at 10 a.m. when we’re setting up. Around 50,000 people usually attend.”

Local shops and restaurants have greatly benefited from the festival, Giordano said. “Different vendors come and set up. Many businesses have found it profitable to put their goods out right in front of their stores,” she added.

As always, music will play a major role in this year’s festivities. With two stages, the performances will include mariachi, salsa, bachata and rock music. Local entertainers, such as Young Dancers in Repertory, Regina Opera Company and the OLPH Twirlers, are also slated to perform.

Perhaps the highlight of the fun-filled day for the kids is the rides. “There’s one whole block where kids can go on bounce rides for free,” said Giordano. “They love them. We also have pony rides. Though those are not free, there’s a big line for that all the time.”

Non-profit organizations will also be in attendance, chock full of information. “The BID itself also does games. Kids also enjoy creating free sand art in little jars, face painting and a hula hoop contest,” Giordano added.

In past festivals, the FDNY’s Smokehouse, the Brooklyn Public Library’s Bookmobile and the MTA’s Jackie Gleason bus have made appearances. “The 72nd Precinct also comes and fingerprints and give out free ID cards,” she said.

Since its inception, the festival has left its mark in the neighborhood. “It’s nice for everybody to unwind. It’s something they look forward to. Some people ask why don’t we do it twice a year,” Giordano said. “For the community, it’s a big event. It signifies neighborhood and I think people have a great time.”

For more information about this year’s festival, visit www.sunsetparkbid.org.


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