Third Avenue shows how to Embrace Winter

February 25, 2020 Paula Katinas
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BAY RIDGE — The stores along the Third Avenue shopping strip were turned into concert stages and art galleries on Feb. 22, as business leaders joined forces with a local arts advocacy group to present Embrace Winter, a festival designed to promote the arts.

“I thought it went really well. I’m happy with how it went,” Embrace Winter organizer Victoria Hofmo told the Home Reporter on Feb. 25.

Hofmo’s group, the Bay Ridge Arts and Cultural Alliance, teamed up with the Merchants of Third Avenue, the organization representing hundreds of store owners on the busy shopping thoroughfare, to host the Eighth Annual Embrace Winter Festival.

ebrooklyn media/Photos by Arthur De Gaeta
Aeilushi Mistry taught traditional Indian dance at Cappuccino Café

The goal is to show the world the lively arts scene that exists in Bay Ridge, said Hofmo, the co-founder of BRACA. Hofmo is also the founder of the Scandinavian East Coast Museum.

The festival featured everything from opera sopranos to accordion players to ice fishing games for children.

Merchants President Bob Howe congratulated Hofmo for her smooth running of the sprawling festival.

“Congratulations to Victoria for programming almost 30 venues with a variety of cultural events,” he told the Home Reporter in a text message on Tuesday.

Cappuccino Café, at 7721 Third Ave., served as the unofficial headquarters for festival day.

The café hosted performances and arts and crafts workshops all afternoon.

ebrooklyn media/Photos by Arthur De Gaeta
Conor Flanagan holds the owls he crafted.

Accordion player Ellen Lindstrom was a big hit, according to Hofmo. “People were dancing,” she said.

Another big draw was the Regina Opera company, which performed at Vesuvio Restaurant at 7305 Third Ave. “Regina Opera filled the place. They always attract a big crowd,” Hofmo said.

Children had fun playing an ice fishing game at Cosentino’s, a 100-year-old fish store at 6927 Third Ave.

In addition to promoting the arts in Bay Ridge, Embrace Winter is also designed to help people beat the winter blues by providing them with an outlet.

ebrooklyn media/Photos by Arthur De Gaeta
Bob Carlson, dressed as a penguin, sat outside Cosentino’s with a fishing pole waiting for prospective fishermen such as three-year old George Douloumbkas to try their hand at ice fishing.

But the warm weather on Saturday made that point moot, Hofmo admitted.

Still, the event largely fulfilled its purpose, she said. “It is what it is. You can’t do anything about the weather,” Hofmo said.

“One time, we had the Viking Fest in a hailstorm,” she said, referring to a springtime event in Owl’s Head Park she organizes each year to celebrate Scandinavian history and culture.

ebrooklyn media/Photos by Arthur De Gaeta
Regina Opera offered a musical interlude at Vesuvio.
ebrooklyn media/Photos by Arthur De Gaeta
A young dancer enjoyed the music as Ellen Lindstrom, aka the Swedish Meatball, played her accordion.

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