Pizza-eating record shattered at Bay Ridge fest

Thousands brave heat for Fifth Avenue Spring Festival

Brooklyn Daily
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They might call it the Fifth Avenue Spring Festival, but it sure felt like summer!

The mercury neared 90 degrees Sunday, June 2, at the 20th annual celebration of the Bay Ridge thoroughfare — which stretches from 69th to 85th streets — but that didn’t stop thousands from coming out.

“It was a little too hot, but people stayed,” said organizer Chip “Festival Guy” Cafiero. “It was never packed, but it stayed crowded, which is what I like to see.”

Cafiero said the high temperatures didn’t put many people in the mood for food, but plenty of people came thirsty.

“Anybody who sold any kind of drinks did very, very well,” said Cafiero. “The bottled water, the pina coladas, they had lines all day.”

But some people brought their appetites.

Competitors lined up in front of Rocco’s Pizzeria between 78th and 79th streets for their 9th annual pizza-eating contest. Jamie “The Bear” McDonald, a visitor from Connecticut, crammed down 30 slices — obliterating 2012 champ Pat Philbin’s record of 23 and a half slices. Philbin, a native of Moonachie, N.J., managed just 16 and a half slices this year.

McDonald — who learned of the contest from friends in the competitive eating community — said he was assured of victory from the start, and plans to return to defend his title next year.

“I told the guys at Rocco’s I was fairly confident I would win, and my goal was to set a new record. So when I passed the record, I just kept going,” said McDonald. “It was a fun contest, and a great crowd, and the guys at Rocco’s are great guys.”

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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