Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce gathers along the banks of the East River

Barbecue and Bocce Usher in Cooler Temps and First Ever Sponsorship of TASTE Williamsburg-Greenpoint

August 19, 2016 By Andy Katz Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
From left: Stephen Donofrio, Lauren Grayson, Edward Baker, Jake Schiff, Norm Brodsky, Dana Rachlin, Monica Holowacz and James Park prepare to undertake their bocce tournament. Photos by Andy Katz
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 In centuries past people offered thanks for the end of foul, destructive weather cycles by killing a prize bull or an exceptionally fine ram—some cultures even went so far as to offer a human sacrifice to appease capricious gods and promote a more productive climate.

The Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce uses bocce.

Marking the region’s long-awaited retreat from triple digit heat and humidity, North Brooklyn entrepreneur Norm Brodsky demonstrated the finer points of bocce (on a court, he insists, is the only regulation-sized bocce court in all of North Brooklyn) to players that included Assemblymember for the 50th District Joe Lentol, Greenpoint Innovations CEO Stephen Donofrio and NYC Together Executive Director Dana Rachlin.

Meanwhile, on the south side of Brodsky’s celebrated trailer, Chamber of Commerce CEO Elaine Brodsky presided over the organization’s annual barbecue. The focus this year was the chamber’s first-time sponsorship of TASTE Williamsburg Greenpoint, a gathering of North Brooklyn’s best and most innovative restaurants offering sample plates to attendees on Wythe Avenue. Proceeds will benefit the Firehouse North Brooklyn Community Center.

“They’re going to use our prize wheel at the TASTE” Paul Samulski, East River Ferry vice president explained while he worked, plating burgers, hot dogs and grilled chicken breasts as quickly as Josh Cohen — owner of Anella and Jimmy’s Diner — passed them over from the smoking grill.

Chamber of commerce members and guests were encouraged to bring giveaways that could include gift certificates or samples of their products to the barbecue where they would be collected and used as prizes for the Ferry’s spinning wheel at the TASTE Williamsburg Greenpoint event on Sept. 18.

According to TASTE Williamsburg Greenpoint Event Director Dana Krieger, the Greenpoint Chamber is also sharing its sixth floor office space at Pencilworks Brooklyn with TASTE organizers. “It’s a great event and we’re able to offer them some of our resources,” chamber staffer Franny Civitano pointed out.

Their game over, the bocce players filtered back. None could say for certain which team had prevailed.

Much of the postprandial conversation focused on members’ forthcoming projects.  Donofrio described his company’s participation in a soon-to-be unveiled Greenpoint mural created with sugar-based acrylic paints that contain few volatile organic compounds. “Greenpoint had the highest rate of childhood leukemia at one time,” he pointed out.  “We believe in this neighborhood, in what’s good for its future.”

Bobby Seeger Jr., of Indian Larry Motorcycles, passed out fliers inviting all to the 13th Annual Grease Monkey Block Party scheduled for Sept. 17.

The late summer sun set, painting the sky over the East River with delicate golds and blues. It was nice, finally, to be outdoors again without feeling like a melted grease stain.

“We caught a break with the weather,” Civitano said. “We weren’t sure this many people would feel like coming.”

Business and marketing consultant Lauren Grayson came as a guest. In addition to learning some of the finer points of bocce, Grayson felt the evening was worthwhile: “It was interesting to be involved with families like these,” she said. “These are good people to know.”

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