In a First, Crowds Get Their Taste of the Seaport on the Seaport's Piers

Crowds mingled and noshed among the booths of more than 40 restaurants on Piers 16 and 17 at the 9th annual Taste of the Seaport. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Oct. 23, 2018

The early rain clouds cleared and the hungry crowds arrived on Saturday, set to dig in to the copious offerings of food and fun at the ninth annual Taste of the Seaport.

Festgoers wended their way among the tented booths of more than 40 restaurants on Piers 16 and 17, much to the benefit of some 10,000 palates and two local schools, the Peck Slip and Spruce Street Schools. Then there was the entertainment, from the Peck Slip School’s dancing Bollywood Starlets to knife-juggling magician Gary (The Great) Ferrar to recording artist Queen V, and many more. As always, a KidZone was there for children hungrier for play and creativity than new cuisine.

Until this year, Front Street was the main drag for Taste of the Seaport and Paul Hovitz, a longtime Community Board 1 member and advocate for local schools, explained from the stage how it began there.

“One of our restaurant owners from Front Street came to the [CB1] Seaport Committee and said, ‘We need some help. We don’t have enough traffic on the block. There’s not enough business.’ I said, ‘Well, there’s a Taste of Tribeca, let’s create Taste of the Seaport.”

What started under the name Taste of Front Street became Taste of the Seaport under the sponsorship of the Howard Hughes Corp. With all the notice that the Hughes redevelopment of Pier 17 has been receiving, organizers saw a chance to tap into that attention, not to mention provide a roomier space for the event.

“We made the decision to move it in part because we felt it was an opportunity to attract more sponsors, which it did,” said Doug Ganley, a Spruce Street School parent who co-chairs the event with Katie Roumel, “and to combine the event in one area as opposed to Front Street, where [the different activities] got so segregated.”

“Those businesses on Front Street,” Ganley added, “have been supporters of the Taste since the beginning, so we want to make sure that we remain partners with them as well. Our hope was that even though we moved to the pier we still tried to take steps to drive business to them.” Though Ganley said there are mixed opinions about leaving Front Street, he thinks the event will probably return to the piers next year for a “blow out” 10th anniversary of the event.

Planning for Taste of the Seaport is a nearly year-long project for the parent organizers, who stage the event with the help of some 200 volunteers. And the payoff? “Lots of stuff,” said Peck Slip School Principal Maggie Siena. “It includes our arts programs and music, but it also means we can hire more school aides and have more recess supervision and just making the DOE budget a little bit more robust.”

“But it’s also a nice community event,” she noted. “Nice to get people out together.”

Nancy Harris, the Spruce Street School principal, agreed.

“The funds are very important but really it’s about being more out in the community, and also being open to the community,” she said. “On the one hand it’s like a block party for kids and families and their community, but it also lets the outside community see what our schools are all about.”

“And,” she added, “it’s delicious!”