Promenade in Great Neck Plaza offers a taste of ballroom dancing and good food

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This Great Neck couple described themselves as frequent dancers and here to immerse themselves in the music. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

Hundreds of residents enjoyed a night of magic, dancing and food on Bond Street at Great Neck Plaza’s promenade on Wednesday, with friends reuniting, children dashing about and ballroom dancers spinning over the concrete.

Countless tables lined the streets from restaurants like Era Asian Cuisine and La Rotonda, an Italian restaurant. New restaurants like Foughnuts also enjoyed their first promenade, with many people curiously stepping inside and asking “what’s a foughnut?”

Great Neck Plaza resident Miriam Cohen, like many others, said she came down for all of these things: “Beautiful weather, beautiful people, the music and the food,” Cohen said.

Mark James and Karen Lupo strike an intense pose as they dance before a crowd on Bond Street. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

Unlike previous years, the Plaza held this promenade on a Wednesday. It also featured a new degree of interactivity and entertainment, with nationally acclaimed ballroom dancers Mark James and Karen Lupo performing everything from the Lindy Hop to Swing.

James and Lupo also offered magic tricks and introduced basic ballroom dance steps.

Ron Edelson, head of the Great Neck Plaza Business Improvement District, said this year’s promenade was serving as a test run to see if having different entertainment could help increase crowds over the summer.

“We needed to change up what happens when you come up, because the restaurants are always going to be the same,” Edelson said.

Typically audiences tend to decline in July and August because people leave for the summer, Edelson added.

La Rotonda served between 200 and 250 people as of 9:00 p.m., according to store owner George Pecoraro. He said that while previous years had more people, it was still a fun night for him.

Family and friends found themselves seated outside, able to enjoy warm weather and a helping of food. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

“It’s a bonus for us because it’s much busier than a regular average Wednesday, so everybody gets to enjoy that,” Pecoraro said. “It’s still good.”

Patrizia Ciccarello, a resident of Great Neck Plaza, said she had been coming to the downtown’s promenades for many years. In addition to the food, she said these events give her a chance to see old friends again in a lively place.

“It’s always great,” she said. “It’s always exciting.”

However Nicole Calaff, a server at Rotanda, also noted that many people seemed unaware of the promenade beforehand.

“At least five tables had no idea,” she said.

A young girl pets 5-year-old Charlie, a rescued dog and Superstorm Sandy survivor. His owner described him as “people friendly” – and the many kids that approached him seemed to agree. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

This promenade was the first of four planned in the Plaza this summer. The next one, set for July 12, will be on Middle Neck Road from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. It will feature line dancing lessons and performances from Jill Weiss.

Some restaurants participating include Gino’s Pizzeria & Ristorante, Muzi, Burger Village, Chez Kama, Saaho Village and Haagen-Dazs.

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