Third Avenue Stroll kicks off third year with big crowds

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Pour him another: John Rafferty keeps the crowds dancing at neighborhood watering hole Pour House.
Walking on sunshine: Evan Wagner and daughter Hailey are all smiles.
Taking back the streets: Thousands of people filled Third Avenue during the first of four Summer Strolls — which shut down Third Avenue from 69th to 80th streets to pedestrians.

Bay Ridge’s newest block party got off on the right foot this year.

The year’s first Summer Stroll on Third Avenue saw thousands of visitors on July 18 and some of the best weather in the Stroll’s three-year history.

The four-part annual block party closed Third Avenue to traffic between 69th and 80th streets last Friday, allowing locals and visitors alike the chance to stroll the avenue, peruse area shops, and dine al fresco while sampling local fare. One are merchant said the Stroll is beginning to rival Bay Ridge’s biggest street party.

“There were so many people. I looked down the street and it almost looked like the Third Avenue Festival,” Debra Capone, who owns Debra Rose Beauty Essentials, referring to the 40-years-running Ridge street fair that takes place each September.

Indeed, the spectacle of crowds filling Third Avenue is a major draw for attendees, many said.

“It’s fun to see a lot of residents that live in the area come out and enjoy the avenue,” said Charlotte Mata, who lives on 69th Street at Ridge Boulevard and has visited the stroll every year.

Troupes of musicians performing American roots music, jazz, classic rock, opera, and Broadway hits were a big draw, as well.

“It was great — the music, the dancing — my daughter had a really good time,” said Evan Wagner, a Bensonhurst native who recently defected to Staten Island, but came back for the block party.

This year’s Stroll brought a few new offerings, too.

Rather than hang a few frames, Gallery 364 set up a massive projection slideshow of hundreds of photos taken by Ridgites Dave Foss, Dave Schwab, and Georgine Benvenuto, who founded the gallery.

“We couldn’t do this before, because it was raining,” Benvenuto said referring to soggy Summer Strolls of past years.

And Debra Rose Beauty Essentials hosted a doggie talent show — though there weren’t many entrants in its inaugural year.

“It was like having a party and no one showing up,” said a crestfallen Capone.

But despite the dearth of doggies, a few precocious pups gave breakthrough performances.

Stewie, a miniature dachshund, played patty-cake, and a Maltese named Violet danced on command, Capone said. Both pooches were named winners — their owners got some beauty supplies from Debra Rose, and Violet earned a case of dog food from local shop Paws Truly. Voilet’s owner, Jackie Barrett, said she’ll donate the prize to another Third Avenue institution — One Love Animal Hospital.

The stroll was more than a fun time for Ridgites and their four-legged friends — it’s a boon for businesses, which see fewer customers in hotter months, according to local merchants.

“It’s very helpful to the businesses,” Capone said. “Most people in the summer, they’re gone, so it just brought everybody out of the wood work.”

“Summer Stroll on Third Avenue” between 69th and 80th streets on July 25 at 6 pm and between 80th and 90th streets on Aug. 8 and 15 at 6 pm.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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