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BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER | Anthony Notaro, co-chairperson of the 12th annual Battery Park City block party, looked at the crowd milling around Esplanade Plaza on Saturday, Sept. 28. “I think this is the most people we’ve ever had!” he said to Rosalie Joseph with satisfaction.
“I don’t know,” she said, though she agreed there were a lot of people there. She and Notaro should know whether these were record numbers or not. They spearheaded the first Battery Park City block party in 2002, in an effort to heal the community, fractured and heartbroken after 9/11, and they have been the force behind the block party ever since.
This year, Joseph had officially retired as co-chairperson but was omnipresent at the block party with her clipboard in hand, making sure that everything ran smoothly. Notaro shared the official leadership with Bob Townley, executive director of Manhattan Youth.
The weather could not have been more beautiful — not too hot or too cold, not too windy. Fleecy clouds provided a backdrop to the stage, where the show consisted largely of a parade of Battery Park City inhabitants, including pets.
The Seniors’ Chorus performed “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The girls from the New American Youth Ballet gracefully waved their arms and later in the show, reappeared in pretty, white costumes with fluffy skirts. The boys showed off their breakdancing skills.
The TriBattery Pops conducted by Tom Goodkind, played “The Star-Spangled Banner,” while stiltwalkers dressed as Uncle Sam and the Statue of Liberty brandished American flags.
Shake Shack provided free blueberry lemonade, which kept the crowd hydrated. Blue Smoke sold pulled pork sandwiches on housemade buns. St. Joseph’s Chapel had a supply of cupcakes from Inatteso Café Casano and several cans of icing, which kids laid on thick and topped with sprinkles. Representatives of Asphalt Green’s culinary arts program showed up with bags of tasty beet chips.
There were games and dancing, a bubble gum blowing contest, a capoeira demonstration, boat rides and flea market tables.
Undoubtedly weary from the recent primary election, there were no politicians (Yume Kitasei, director of budget and legislation for City Councilmember Margaret Chin, said Chin was sick and couldn’t be there) but several people from the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy attended, including executive director Tessa Huxley, horticulture director T Fleisher and Vince McGowan, who retired from the Conservancy in February.
The Battery Park City Authority was represented by Matthew Monahan, spokesperson for the B.P.C.A., Anne Fenton, deputy chief operating officer, and Martha Gallo, who serves on the board and who lives in Battery Park City.
The B.P.C.A. contributed the stage and sound system to the block party, but this year did not contribute any additional funds. Without the stage and sound system and other infrastructure, “the street fair would possibly not take place,” said Bob Townley.
The block party traditionally ends with everyone singing “Downtown” and “New York, New York.” There was no music to accompany these renditions. Nevertheless, the crowd made a spirited attempt, even though no one could quite remember the words.
No matter. It was a lovely day.