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East 161st Street BID gears up to welcome Yankee fans

Whether you have a ticket to opening day or not, Yankee Stadium is the place to be, with the blocks surrounding the stadium offering non-stop attractions.

From the season’s first game against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday, March 31 to the end of the weekend on Sunday, April 3, the E. 161st Street Business Improvement District will fill the streets with jugglers, sing-alongs of standards like “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” and a troupe of acrobats to entice those attending the games and those just passing through to catch the spirit of community surrounding the stadium.

On Tuesday, March 1, E. 161st BID director Dr. Carey Goodman held a press conference at Joe Bastone’s Yankee Tavern at 72 E. 161st Street to announce a line up of events that should keep fans occupied both during and after the games over the four-day, three-game home stretch that Goodman likened to something close to a national holiday.

“We want to make this Bronx community the center of the celebration of opening day,” Goodman said. “There should be something for everyone of every age and it should be great fun!”

A full slate of activities is being planned for the weekend, including an opening day concert on Thursday, March 31 at Lou Gehrig or Babe Ruth plaza between 9 and 10 a.m., and jugglers from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at E. 161st Street and River Avenue.

A traveling exhibit featuring Negro League artifacts from before and just after Jackie Robinson smashed through baseball’s color barrier and into the hearts of millions of fans will be on display for free viewing on Friday, April 1 at the Bronx Museum of the Arts at 1040 Grand Concourse, as part of the First Fridays series.

Then on Saturday, before a game at 4 p.m., Major League Baseball’s Pitch, Hit and Run Competition will take place in Mullaly Park from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and there will be free autographs, exhibits, and a cultural trolley linking up fans with the Negro League exhibit from 12 to 4 p.m.

Performances of acrobats led by “Paris, the Hip Hop Juggler” and “Welcome to the Bronx” flyer distribution should all take place before the start of the game at 1 p.m.

“We want everyone to know that the Bronx is a safe place to shop and stay before and after a game,” said Timothy “Diamond Cutz” Barner, the BID’s special events coordinator.

“We want people to say that here are some great jugglers, and behind them is a great restaurant we can dine in,” said Paris, the Hip Hop Juggler.

Businesses and organizations including Stan’s Sports Bar, Yankee Tavern, Apple Bank, Bronx Chamber of Commerce, and Applebees will sponsor the placement of banners along River Avenue and E. 161st Street welcoming visitors to the BID.

Bronx Community Solutions’s community service program participants will also be handing out flyers and also assisting in cleaning the streets during the celebration, said project director Maria Almonte-Weston.

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