Members of the Federazione Italo-Americana di Brooklyn and Queens are all smiles after the board voted to support a four-day street festival.
The annual street festival on Fresh Pond Road organized by the Federazione Italo-Americana di Brooklyn and Queens is on track to go return to a four-day event.
Last Wednesday, members of Community Board 5 approved the Ridgewood-based organization’s application by a 18-13 vote.
For the past several years, the festival has been shortened to two days, partly due to the construction at Fresh Pond Road and Metropolitan Avenue. Local groups also took issue with the blocking of traffic on the major thoroughfare and quality-of-life issues.
During the CB5 meeting at Christ the King High School, Tony Di Piazza from the Italian-American organization requested the board reconsider restoring the festival to its original four-day format.
According to Di Piazza, with the funds from the four-day festival, the federation used to run a “community assistance” office, which helped seniors with applying for Medicare and Social Security. But when the festival downscaled, they were forced to shut the office.
“The two-day festival is just not financially viable,” he said.
The festival will run from Thursday, September 5, to Sunday, September 8, each day from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. The five-block event stretches along Fresh Pond Road from Woodbine Street to Menahan Street.
The application was met with some resistance from board members. John Maier argued that the festival was “improper use” of one of the main north-south streets in Ridgewood.
Unlike the four other street festivals that submitted applications and were approved last week, all of which take place in one day, this event stretches over four days.
“It affects limited and local express bus service,” Maier said. “Last year, we had rides sitting on Fresh Pond Road affecting traffic, transit and everything for at least a week afterwards.”
Maier, who is a member of CB5’s Executive Committee, added that Federazione Italo-Americana di Brooklyn and Queens did not fill out a four-page application that other applicants completed. The paperwork includes questions about costs, insurance and more.
“They only submitted a one-page knockoff that does not equate to the facts and figures that were talked about at our meeting,” he said.
Maier motioned for a vote to deny the application, which fell short.
Others came to the organization’s defense. Walter Sanchez said the federation has been running the event for a few decades, and has worked to keep it clean.
“They’ve done a terrific job, and they’ve given a decent amount of money back to the community,” he said.
Board member Richard Huber added that it’s becoming more difficult for charities to raise funds to help the community.
“Sadly, this is one of the few ways left for them to make money,” he said.
After the application was approved, members of the federation who attended the meeting stood up and applauded the board. Middle Village resident Vincent Mannino said the festival is not only a way to raise funds, but also bring Italian-Americans together.
“This thing has been going on for so many years,” he said. “It’s excellent for the community and to share the Italian-American culture.”