Atlantic Antic: Howard Kolins on Brooklyn’s largest and oldest street festival
BROOKLYN EAGLE: What brought you to Brooklyn, and particularly Atlantic Avenue?
HOWARD KOLINS: I moved to Boerum Hill in 1985 as a renter and purchased a brownstone in 1987 only one block away from Atlantic Avenue on Hoyt Street. Attending the Atlantic Antic was an annual adventure.
EAGLE: Were you aware of the Atlantic Antic, or were you a participant before you took the job of running it?
KOLINS: After learning that I was a stage manager at Radio City, my neighbor, Margaret Cusack, drafted me for the annual Hoyt Street Plant Sale. This all-volunteer effort is like putting on a large show, with plants instead of Rockettes. Margaret suggested I get more involved in our community by taking a seat on the Boerum Hill Association Board. The President of the board at that time was Sue Wolfe who is a board member of the Atlantic Avenue Local Development Corporation. When she moved to Fort Greene, the board asked me to take the President’s chair.
EAGLE: What happened next?
KOLINS: As you can see when the AALDC needed in new Executive Director, I was a known performer. I took this seat in 2020 during the pandemic when my freelance work as an Event Producer came to a full stop. Joining the AALDC gave me another opportunity to service my community so I was happy to have something to challenge me during the pandemic shutdown.
EAGLE: For the average reader/neighbor who may not know Atlantic Avenue
intimately, can you clarify the difference between the Local Development
Corporation and the BID?
KOLINS: The AALDC was founded in 1974 as a precursor to the Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District. Both organizations support the merchant community and often work together to promote the avenue and attract visitors by producing events like ArtWalk. The BID receives funds through property assessments while the AALDC raises funds separately. Our major fundraiser is the Atlantic Antic. The BID’s work is visible in plantings in the tree beds and the new banners along the avenue. They speak for the merchants on many topics and we add our to theirs on topics including traffic and safety.
EAGLE: When did the Atlantic Antic originate?
KOLINS: The AALDC has produced the Atlantic Antic since 1974 when Atlantic Avenue was known for its antique stores and Middle Eastern food and shops. Over the decades, the merchants have diversified but the small, personal shopkeepers can still be found next to big retailers like Barnes and Noble, Michaels and Marshalls.
EAGLE: Tell us more about the uniqueness of the avenue.
KOLINS: Atlantic Avenue has great restaurants, wonderful food offerings at Sahadi’s, Damascus Bakery, Key Food and Trader Joe. Over a 1.1-mile shopping stroll from Hicks Street to Fourth Avenue, you can have great pizza and coffee many times. You will find clothing, animal care, a pet bakery (one of a kind!), baked goods, barbers, hair salons, spas and many great clothing designers. Do you know we have almost 100 women-owned businesses? Truly we have it all.
Atlantic Avenue is new to Brooklyn but still with a small-town vibe where the store owner will greet you by name.
EAGLE: What’s in store for visitors at this upcoming Atlantic Antic?
KOLINS: The Atlantic Antic Brooklyn’s oldest and largest street fair because it offers more than other fairs. Sure, come to eat, drink and shop but you can come for the free entertainment. The main stage near Clinton Street continues the 48-year tradition of Middle Eastern music and belly dancers. The TF Cornerstone Stage will have a full performance lineup and the presentation of our annual Ambassador Award that will honor State Street’s FDNY Engine Company 226. Check out the Mommy Poppins X Brooklyn Bridge Parents Fun Zone between Hicks and Henry Streets; the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus will be nearby east of Henry Street. The Weill Cornell Medicine Kids Zone on Beorum Place will feature bouncy houses and the FDNY Fire Safety Education Team with a fire engine to delight the kids. Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of hip-hop with the Hard Soul Boutique near Bond Street, Kids Rock for Kids will present an assorted of bands near Nevins Street. Look for pop-up performances by the Brooklyn United Marching Band and the Batala Drummers!
We have it all. Eat, drink, shop, party and discover one of our restaurants that we enjoy all year round. More importantly, make Atlantic Avenue your Christmas shopping destination.
By the end of the week, more information will posted on our website. For now, read the press release here.
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