For the last 19 years, the Fresh Pond Road Street Festival has received criticism from various Community Board 5 (CB5) members.
As the board last week voted unanimously in support of a number of street fairs and festivals at its monthly meeting, they once again debated the Fresh Pond Road Street Festival, a historically controversial annual event on a five-block span on Fresh Pond Road between Woodbine and Menahan streets in Ridgewood.
Lucy Dolce, program director for Federazione Italo-Americana di Brooklyn and Queens, the festival’s sponsor, has watched the event go through the same process every year.
“People spoke this way at the last meeting and they spoke that way 19 years ago, and things are not going to change,” Dolce said. “I feel it’s a good thing for the community, good for the children and something to look forward to when you need a break from the bad things in life.”
Although it passed again this year by a vote of 22 to 14 with one abstention, several board members were again concerned with the length of the festival, which runs from Sep. 5 to 7 from 5 p.m. to midnight, and on Sep. 8 from 5 to 10 p.m.
According to board member Peter Comber, who voted against the proposal, “This is four times the amount of aggravation that causes disruption.”
“I can understand during the weekends would be fine, but having it four days going to midnight; I’m against it,” he added.
Dolce explained the festival is one of the few financial supplements that allows her to operate the non-profit multi-service senior center in Glendale, which provides her elderly clients with help paying Medicare and Medicaid bills, assistance with disability pensions, setting up doctor’s appointments and a number of other tedious jobs.
“A lot of seniors who don’t like going to a bigger location, so they’d rather have a private office when no one else is around,” she said. “They know they can call me at any time. Many of them even have my home number.”
Over the years, she has removed a number of the rides to reduce any controversy, and according to Dolce, there has never been negative confrontation with police since the festival first began.
“They used to complain about the rides, so we scaled back and got rid of all the rides that were too big,” she said. “They also complained about the music, so now we stop music at 10 p.m.”
The other street fairs that were unanimously approved were scheduled from noon to 6 p.m., with the exception of the Maspeth Street Fair on Grand Avenue, which takes place on Sep. 22nd from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., between 69th and 72nd streets.
They included the Ridgewood LDC Myrtle Avenue Festival, scheduled for April 14 on Myrtle Avenue between Wyckoff and Fresh Pond Road; The Metropolitan Avenue Festival, scheduled for May 5th on Metropolitan Avenue between 73rd Place and 79th Street; The Grand Avenue Festival on June 9 on Grand Avenue between 65th and 72nd streets; The Myrtle Avenue Festival scheduled for Aug. 18 on Myrtle Avenue between Fresh Pond Road and Forest Avenue; and The Myrtle Avenue BID Festival scheduled for Sep. 15 on Myrtle Avenue between Wyckoff Avenue and Fresh Pond Road.