Last week, hundreds of residents came out for hot chocolate and cookies at the sixth annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony at the intersection by ‘sNice on Fifth Avenue and Third Street.
Mark Caserta, executive director of the Park Slope Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), welcomed guests like Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, a puppet show from Puppetry Arts and NY Kids Club, and live music from singer-songwriter Amy Miles, the host of PBS’s Lomax the Hound of Music.
“We’re just here giving back to the community,” he said. “We’re here tonight, but we just want everyone to come back and really see what Fifth Avenue has to offer if you haven’t checked it out yet.”
For the last two years, Caserta and the BID have held the celebration on Small Business Saturday in an effort to raise awareness for the nearly 500 unique mom-and-pop shops along the avenue.
“We are a mecca for the small business movement,” Caserta said, noting the 30-block BID from Dean to 18th Street is nearly a mile-and-a-half of mostly local businesses. “Today is a day when people turn their attention to small businesses and they realize that we’re such an important part of the economy.”
Park Slope resident Gabriela Bornstein walked to the event with her husband, son and daughter from their nearby home.
“We watched the shows with the carolers and the music,” Bornstein said, surrounded by her family just after the tree lighting. “It was great and really cute.”
She said that while she is happy to see the streets flooded with new faces, Bornstein added that she too hopes they continue to come back when it’s all said and done.
“We always eat in the neighborhood and really do everything in this neighborhood,” Bornstein said. “We love to just walk and find what we like.”
Assemblywoman-elect Jo Anne Simon joined in the ceremony last weekend.
“Small businesses are our neighbors, they are us and these neighborhoods exist because of small businesses,” Simon said. “We need to do everything we can to strengthen small business and we want people to shop locally because it’s the local businesses that make up the local character and flavor of our neighborhood.”
Simon said after she takes office this January, she would make it a point to meet with local BIDs in her district and do what she can to help them grow.
“We have some new BIDs and old BIDs in the district so everybody can be very helpful and cooperative so we can learn from each other,” she said.