Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn’s Montague Street kicks off Open Streets with exuberant party

Cake for everyone on Canon John Denaro’s birthday

May 8, 2023 Mary Frost
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BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — The blazingly exuberant Hungry March Band kicked off Montague Street’s first Open Streets of the summer season on Saturday. The madcap marching band, first conceived at Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade, set the tone for the all-day party on Brooklyn Heights’ main shopping and dining strip.

Sponsored by the Montague BID, Brooklyn Heights Association and city Department of Transportation, the event also celebrated the 60th birthday of Canon John Denaro, pastor of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church on Clinton and Montague streets. Canon Denaro joined in the fun with the band, posing atop a chair as band members danced around him. 

This was followed by another musical spectacle as the 85-member Grace Chorale filled Montague Street and sang Happy Birthday, before Denaro blew out the candles and cut the cake for well-wishers. 

The all-brass Hungry March Band got Brooklyn Heights’ Montague Street jumping at the start of the first Open Streets event of the season on Saturday. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

“It’s the big 60 tomorrow,” Denaro told the Brooklyn Eagle. “I’m 59 for one more day.”

“We are so grateful that the BID invited us to help kick off the Opens Streets season, and we wanted to make this a community event. We wanted people to know that our church is part of this community, and all are welcome at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity. It matters that we’re in Brooklyn Heights on Montague Street. We’re very grateful to be neighbors with all of the businesses and the houses of worship. I know this sounds like something I should be saying, but I really mean it.”

Numerous events on the streets geared for adults included the mellow folk sounds of the Samoa Wilson trio; an open mic event sponsored by Brooklyn Poets; and DJ Captain Kitty’s mix of disco, dance, and funk tunes. Cyclists could take a look at a new Linus eDutchi & eRoadster at L’Appartement 4F bakery, and kids ate free at Mad for Chicken.

What music! The Hungry March Band absolutely blazed as it launched Montague Street’s first Open Streets of the summer season on Saturday, May 6. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

The Brooklyn Women’s Exchange’s incoming President Emily Everhart and incoming Vice President Christina Gonzalez welcomed visitors to their new location on the street. 

“This is the first Open Streets weekend we’ve been here. Between the [good] weather and Open Streets, business is above average,” Gonzalez said. Since moving to Montague Street, “We have a lot of new customers, and a lot of people joining the Women’s Exchange. It’s really exciting.”

In the spirit of doing good while having fun, The Service Collective gathered food staples, including pasta, rice and beans, to benefit food pantries at St. Ann & Holy Trinity, St. Charles Borromeo and First Presbyterian Church. 

Poet Jacqueline de Weever read a poem from her book Trailing the Sun’s Sweat at the open mic sponsored by Brooklyn Poets on Montague Street. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

Amanda Jones, executive director of The Service Collective, told the Eagle, “We are a public service volunteer organization and any kid, teen or family can sign up for any of our projects. We partner with other nonprofits in order to figure out what they need, and then we offer volunteer projects to serve them.”

She added, “Local food pantries’ supplies often dwindle going towards the summer months, so this is an effort to repack those stocks so that they don’t run out over the summer. There are three local pantries in Brooklyn Heights — a lot of people don’t know that.”

Manning the table was Damien Jung, a student at Poly Prep; Sophia Goldman, a Saint Ann’s School student; and her friend Eleanor Belinfanti, also a student at Saint Ann’s.

Nicole Albanese, assistant manager of Brooklyn Poets, introduced the poets and performers at Saturday’s open mic on Montague Street. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

“I found out about this service at my school,” Jung said. 

“I heard about it through my family friends. I’m interested in getting back into volunteer work since COVID,” Goldman said. 

Belinfanti said she heard about the volunteer opportunity from her friend Sophia and decided to join in. 

Kids watch as the The Hungry March Band worked its way up and down Montague Street on Saturday. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

Activities for young kids

Young children had a great play day with plenty of colorful chalk for mural creating, a giant chess set, an obstacle course, Street Lab’s popup reading room and other play opportunities.

Kids learned to Double Dutch with Tashima, Beneewa and Tawa of the “Elite BKLYN Jumpers;” and Champion Martial Arts’ masters and students demonstrated Taekwondo, kicks, spins and board breaking.

Poet Corey Vega performed his work at the open mic sponsored by Brooklyn Poets at Saturday’s Open Streets event on Montague Street. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

Visitors from Brooklyn Heights’ past

Phyllis and Stephen Pfeiffer were visiting Brooklyn Heights for the first time since they lived in the neighborhood 50 years ago, from 1970 to 1973. “It appears that there’s a lot more landscaping, a lot more upgrading of the homes … I don’t know if Capulets on Montague is still open?” (It’s not.) But the dry cleaner and hardware store were the same, Phyllis said.

“We sold our apartment to [singer/songwriter] Tom Chapin,” Stephen said. 

“Actually, we sold the introduction to the landlord, because it was a rent-controlled building,” Phyllis said.

“We paid $219 a month for a two-bedroom floor-through,” Stephen added. 

The Brooklyn Women’s Exchange’s incoming Vice President Christina Gonzalez, left, and incoming President Emily Everhart welcomed visitors to their new location on Montague street on Saturday. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

Back in the ‘70s, there was a big drug issue in the neighborhood, Phyllis said. “When I came home from NYU at night, I had to walk in the middle of the street. If you walked on the sidewalk, somebody could grab you.”

The couple said they don’t regret moving to California, where Phyllis is a newspaper publisher and Stephen is a clinical psychologist. “When we moved in, we were a half block from the beach and we went, ‘Oh my God, this is paradise.’”

This boy has just put his adult chess opponent into checkmate on Montague Street. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
The Hungry March Band entertained on Montague Street’s Open Streets celebration on Saturday in Brooklyn Heights. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
DJ Captain Kitty played a mix of disco, dance and funk tunes on Montague Street Saturday. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
Spoken word artist Absyte read her poem at the open mic sponsored by Brooklyn Poets at Saturday’s Open Streets event on Montague Street. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
The Samoa Wilson trio entertained the east end of Montague Street with easy-listening folk and jazz. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
The exuberant Hungry March Band kicked off Montague Street’s first Open Streets of the summer season on Saturday, May 6. The sassy marching band was first conceived at Coney Island’s Mermaid Parade. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
You don’t see a band like this every day, kids! The Hungry March Band danced up Montague Street on its first Open Streets event on Saturday, and amazed children who seldom see grownups having this much fun. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
She nailed it! This sax really wails during Montague Street’s Open Streets celebration on Saturday, May 6. The event was opened by The Hungry March Band. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
Some people biked to Montague Street on Saturday to check out the new Linus eDutchi and eRoadster at L’Appartement 4F bakery (and grab a croissant). Eagle photo by Mary Frost
Champion Martial Arts’ masters and students demonstrated Taekwondo, kicks, spins and board breaking at Montague Street’s Open Streets event on Saturday. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
Montague Street’s first Open Streets of the season also celebrated the 60th birthday of Canon John Denaro, pastor of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church. Canon Denaro joined in the fun, posing atop a chair as band members danced around him. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
Canon John Denaro (right), pastor of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, cuts his birthday cake to share with the crowd. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
Champion Martial Arts’ students watch as their fellow students exhibit their skills at Montague Street’s Open Streets event. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
The Hungry March Band got the party rolling at Montague Street’s Open Streets celebration on Saturday, May 6 in Brooklyn Heights. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
Phyllis and Stephen Pfeiffer dropped by Montague Street’s Open Street event on Saturday. They were visiting Brooklyn Heights for the first time since they lived in the neighborhood 50 years ago, from 1970 to 1973. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
On Saturday, kids on Montague Street enjoyed the Hype Kids Dance Party — and also the high fives after every dance. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
Montague Street’s first Open Streets of the season also celebrated the 60th birthday of Canon John Denaro, pastor of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church. Canon Denaro joined in the fun, posing atop a chair as band members danced around him. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
“I can do it with my hands behind my back!” Kids learned how to Double Dutch on Montague Street from from the Elite BKLYN Jumpers on Saturday. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
Students who study Taekwondo at Champion Martial Arts’ demonstrated their skills at Montague Street’s Open Streets event on Saturday. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
The 85-member Grace Chorale sang Happy Birthday to Canon Denaro, pastor of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, on the occasion of his 60th birthday. The party was part of Montague Street’s first Open Streets of the season on Saturday, May 6. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
Saturday was a great day to sit back and watch the world (and a marching band) go by in Brooklyn Heights. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
The Service Collective collected food staples, including pasta, rice and beans, to benefit local food pantries. Shown from left: Students Damien Jung, Sophia Goldman and Eleanor Belinfanti. Standing right: Amanda Jones, executive director of The Service Collective. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
Can’t beat this deal: Kids ate free at Mad for Chicken all afternoon Saturday as part of Montague Street’s first Open Streets event of the season. Eagle photo by Mary Frost
Experts from Elite BKLYN Jumpers taught kids how to Double Dutch on Montague Street on Saturday, and they learned in a flash. Eagle photo by Mary Frost


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