Selectmen approve merchant-sponsored parties in July

Town residents and businesses are ready to party this summer and they now have the full blessing of the Board of Selectmen.

At their June 7 meeting, the selectmen unanimously gave their approval to two summer celebrations centered around local businesses. First up will be a Bastille Day celebration sponsored by the Alliance Francaise of Greenwich on July 14 on Lewis Street. The selectmen approved closing Lewis Street for the night to allow for the celebration, which will begin with a flag raising at Town Hall and continue with a breakfast at Restaurant Jean-Louis and then conclude with an outside party with the restaurant as the focal point.

Jean-Louis Gerin, owner and chef at the popular Lewis Street restaurant, appeared on behalf of the celebration, which will be done for the third time. This celebration will actually be on the same day as the Greenwich Avenue sidewalk sales, but Mr. Gerin said it would not cause any interference since the celebration will be at night, at 7, with dinner and dancing. The sidewalk sales are supposed to end at 6 p.m. that day.

The Greenwich Police Department and Sgt. John Slusarz, who oversees the traffic department, has signed off on a traffic plan to divert traffic away from Lewis Street during the celebration. Off duty officers will be hired by Alliance Francaise to direct traffic. Sgt. Slusarz said he had been assured by Mr. Gerin that he had the equipment already set to block off the road from traffic that day.

“We’ve worked out a pattern that will have minimal impact on traffic,” Sgt. Slusarz said. “At this time we don’t see any reason why the police department should oppose this. In fact we support it. It’s been done in the past and we think it will work out well this time.”

After that will be a “block party” set for Saturday, July 21, in Old Greenwich on Arcadia Road. The party, which is being set up by the Old Greenwich Merchants Association, would be from 6 to 9 p.m. There will be musical performances that night between the Porricelli’s Food Mart and the Soundview Service Center. The Beach House Cafe will be selling food and has a special permit from the state that night to sell beer off site. Garden Catering will also be selling food that night.

Additionally there is set to be face painting, balloon twisting and a dunk tank for family entertainment. First Selectman Peter Tesei said that since the dunk tank would be in the Wells Fargo parking lot that night and Selectman Dave Theis works for Wells Fargo it was perfectly logical that he be the first volunteer for it, something Mr. Theis did not seem eager to do.

Like with the Bastille Day celebration, the merchants have worked with Sgt. Slusarz to create a traffic plan and use off-duty officers that night to make sure everything ran smoothly.

Richard Fulton, president of Chillybear of 180 Sound Beach Avenue, appeared with several other Old Greenwich merchants on behalf of the party, but didn’t even need to sell the selectmen on it. Mr. Tesei said the party sounded like a “great idea” and even gave a plug to Mr. Fulton’s business, joking that if anyone was looking for a silk screen after the meeting “you know where to go.”

“Anytime we can support community events and help business, the board and the town generally love to do it,” Mr. Tesei said.

“I’m glad this is coming back,” Mr. Theis said. “It was done years ago, I remember, and it was a huge success. Anything we can do to support and drive traffic to our local businessmen and women in these difficult times should be something we can embrace.”

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