Seen & Heard: In Defense of the Tribeca Family Festival

••• The reps for two high-profile newcomers, Aire Ancient Baths and Aamanns/Copenhagen, say they don’t know when either will open. Semi-related: On Facebook, Aire posted this lovely photo of model Karolina Kurkova working Franklin Street—while carrying her grandmother’s handbag?—during today’s Limited commercial shoot. Click it to grow it.

••• The new Anne Frank Center USA on Park Place is the site of a four-session diary-writing workshop starting this month.

••• A flyer posted in the door of White & Church says that the restaurant is offering “Artisinal Italian cooking classes taught by acclaimed chef and owner Matteo ‘The Madman’ Boglione.” (Because an Italian may have written it, we’re going to forgive them the misspelling of “artisanal.”) There’s no other info, so if you’re game call the restaurant.

The Tribeca Treats booth at this year’s Tribeca Family Festival

••• Rachel Thebault of Tribeca Treats sent in this about last Saturday’s Tribeca Family Festival:

I know that you and some of your readers have lukewarm to negative feelings about the Tribeca Family Festival, and I wanted to take a moment to advocate on their behalf. First, for the record, I am generally an extremely street fair averse person. Like many New Yorkers, any inconvenience to or rerouting of my daily routine throws me into a tirade, but for the Family Festival I make an exception. It is so much more than your average tube-socks-funnel-cakes-tchotchkes street fair (pardon me for not knowing how and why those pop up around the city), and it is organized as a gift to the community by a number of hard working individuals.

There are 10 people who are involved full-time for 10 weeks in planning and organizing the Family Festival. Then, three days beforehand, that number grows to 40 with an additional 140 volunteers required to orchestrate the event. They do not charge admission, nor do they charge local businesses or organizations a participation fee, so the costs of this event are entirely footed by the Tribeca Film Festival and its sponsors. Given that, the activities that are offered (for free) are at the behest of the sponsors and organizations who specifically plan them for the event, with the Family Festival employees pitching ideas for activities and trying to curate a group of sponsors and organizations they feel would be best suited to the community. As a parent, my kids have been enjoying this festival for 7 years. Every year is different, but every year we find something fun to do. Sometimes we are disappointed that a past activity has not returned, but our kids always have a great time.  (And, oh yeah, did I mention it’s free…?)

But Tribeca families are only one of the constituencies the Family Festival supports. Of equal concern to them is putting together an event that helps support the local businesses. Of course these businesses and organizations are going to promote themselves–that is part of the point of them being there. As a small business owner, I participate in many different expos/fairs/festivals throughout the year. It takes a decent amount of labor hours to prepare for them, not to mention the standard samples or donations that are requested for giveaways, but I believe these events are a valuable marketing tool. The Tribeca Family Festival is the only of these events I’ve participated in that allows the merchants to actually sell products without charging any “booth fees.” Family Festival Saturday triples my sales for an average Saturday. For a business that barely breaks even, this extra money will help cover unexpected repairs and help pay for well-deserved employee bonuses.

Aside from Tribeca Treats, 19 other neighborhood businesses participated in booths, along with the 30 restaurants and businesses along that stretch of Greenwich Street. Thanks to the efforts of the Family Festival, we were able to reach around 250,000 more people than would’ve normally walked by our business that day. I’m sure many of you shudder at that number—and, yes, most of them likely came from neighborhoods outside Tribeca—but I saw hundreds of friends, neighbors and customers I know who live in the neighborhood enjoying the activities throughout the day as well.

The Tribeca Film Festival was originally started to help revitalize the neighborhood and downtown businesses after the 9/11 attacks.  For several years that worked, but now, given the growth of the festival and general logistics, most of the festival events are spread throughout the city. I still think the Film Festival is great “branding” for our neighborhood, but the Family Festival is one of the remaining events that actually brings people down to Tribeca. I know, at least on this website, we are constantly lamenting the loss of our favorite neighborhood businesses—being an independent business in Manhattan is really, really difficult. So I implore your readers to think of how they can continue to support the independent shops that give this neighborhood character, and I encourage them to continue to support efforts of those, like the Tribeca Family Festival, who do so much to support us.

[I have several responses, but I’ll limit it to two: 1) I actually made an effort to tone down my lack of enthusiasm this year! 2) The 250,000-visitor number comes from the Tribeca Film Festival via the NYPD, and while I’m no expert in counting crowds, one would have to have noticed the effect of that many people (five times the capacity of Yankee Stadium) everywhere in Tribeca—especially given where the subways are in relation to Greenwich Street. Personally, I didn’t notice more people anywhere, including on Hudson when Adam and I went to the Ludlow Shop at noon.]



  1. How about this…next year, scrap the f**kin’ amplifiers?! No need to have 6+ hours of someone singing/yelling into a microphone. It’s enough that the residents living around Greenwich Street have to begin to shutter in fear when the orange pylons and green gators start appearing, they know that something wicked this way comes and for the next 48 hours their once quiet lives will be shattered by the non-stop noise (gators & forklifts zooming around, workers hanging out and yelling to each other as they set-up and breakdown, etc.) I don’t consider that a “gift to the community.” I’d rather regift it to another community. Chinatown, perhaps? (PS 234ers will get that joke)
    The Tribeca Film Festival was started to revitalize downtown…well, downtown is revitalized and there’s a tipping point when it becomes too “vitalized” and we’re there.

  2. Wow. They really claim that 250,000 people go to the family festival? That is madness! Who is counting this? Is it someone with double vision(at least!)?

  3. @Smithers – it’s shudder, not shutter.

  4. @Smithers – Thanks. And it’s f@$kin’, not f**kin’.

  5. “hey, you noisy kids get off my lawn!”

  6. “Come on, guys, my Dad said we could take our amplifiers and go play on someone else’s lawn for the whole afternoon!! I hope they don’t have newborns that need to sleep. Ah, who cares!!! Then we can ride our bikes up 6th Avenue and back-up traffic for hours. Then…THEN, he said we could go over to Zuccotti Park and bang our drums for a whole month!!! Yeah, everybody else thinks my dad is just an idiot who wears flip-flops, but I think he is so cool!!”