The first of the NYC street fairs commenced this weekend with the 9th Avenue Food Festival in Hell’s Kitchen, from 42nd to 57th streets.
Exiting the subway at 42nd Street and Broadway a.k.a, Times Square, is an all out assault on the senses. The eyes are blinded by vivid flashing digital advertisements wrapped around soaring sky scrapers in all directions. The brain is jarred as it confronts enormous lumbering buses, crammed with gaping pointing tourist, swinging into view from out of nowhere. The ears are bombarded with loud honking horns, whining sirens, bellowing hawkers, and pounding driving music. The body is squeezed through clumps of agog pedestrians drifting up and down Broadway mesmerized by these sights and sounds, or rushing to make the curtain of a must see musical in one of the many infamous theaters lining the streets just off of this “broad way.” Through this highly charged atmosphere I walked across town towards the fair taking photos of all that I saw.
Ninth Avenue had its own brand of sensory overload this day, with the cloying aroma of frying oil and great billows of smoke and steam rising from the many tented food stands and stoves that lined either side of the street. It was alive with good cheer and people strolling along tempted by Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Greek and Italian dishes with many more delectable sweet goodies, all on offer for just a few dollars, washed down with beer, wine, soda or tart lemonade. If the food did not lure you then there were T-shirts, sandals, woven baskets, wooden toys, trinkets, geegaws, sparkling jewels, summer straw hats, and African drums, to spend your fun money on. Stilt walkers, tall and lean strutted up the avenue while black and red winged angels mingled with the masses.
There was music, singing and dancing too! A piano man rocked and rolled to a crowd of smiling lips and swiveling hips. On the other end of the street a platform was raised where upon young multi-ethnic dancers snapped, hopped and twisted to the beat. Then came blue and green diaphanous ballerinas leaping through the air. Captivating Thai dancers with sharp golden talons and coins in their hair waited their turn to perform for the expectant crowd. In stark contrast, just a block away, aboriginal sounds emanated from a one man band with a didgeridoo.
I took my leave of the eclectic cuisine and frenzied fan fare, turning onto 57th street and walking back east passing 8th and 7th Avenues, Broadway, and 6th Avenue up to 5th Avenue, where I would catch the subway home. But, before heading back to Queens, I stopped for a few shots of the throngs in front of the Apple store then to photograph a young street performer, in front of the Plaza Hotel, doing hand springs and flips to a cheering crowd. Lastly, my eye was caught by an art display consisting of giant colored spools of rope in Central Park, captured against a skyscraper background.