The first-ever Third Avenue Summer Stroll got approval from the city and Community Board 10 — but apparently it didn’t get the thumbs-up from a higher power: Mother Nature.
The 82nd to 89th street evening pedestrian mall — pitched as a way to boost business on the commercial row in a flagging economy — had to contend with intermittent showers following an afternoon downpour on July 20. Event planners Robert Howe of the Third Avenue Merchants Association and Bina Valenzano, co-owner of the Bookmark Shoppe between 84th and 85th streets, said they were nervously checking weather reports the entire day and even considered calling the Stroll off.
“We were going back and forth between the Weather Channel and AccuWeather,” said Howe. “We saw a window in the rain and decided to go for it.”
Valenzano said that several merchants decided not to put out tables for the night, fearing for their paper decorations, which led to gaps in the row of concessions.
“You micromanage as much as you can, and think you’ve covered all your bases, and then the weather throws you for a loop,” the book lady said.
Still, the two were upbeat, since Summer Stroll will roll on for three more Fridays: July 27, Aug. 10, and Aug. 17. Valenzano was also pleased with the number of people who braved the rain to be a part of the first one — an estimated 2,500 to 3,000 people.
“The turnout was much better than I expected, with the fact that it was pouring all day,” Valenzano said.
Howe said he felt the broken drizzle wasn’t too bad anyway, given the week of brutally hot weather leading into Friday
“It cools us off, and we have a chance to get out of the house,” the attorney said.
Ray Riley, an aide to state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) — one of the Stroll’s main sponsors, along with Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) — and an assistant to Howe and Valenzano in the planning process, was out and about for the street fair, and didn’t let the rain ruin his night.
“You get some rain, you move forward, and I think given the weather, it was hugely successful.”
Summer Stroll [Third Avenue from 81st to 89th streets, (718) 833–5115]. On July 27, Aug. 10, and Aug. 17, 6–10:30 pm.Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at wbredderma