26th Annual Yard Sale Wrap Up

SAVE THE DATE: 2016 Yard Sale is September 24, 2016

Like last year’s Yard Sale, the Twenty-sixth Annual West 104th Street Yard Sale fell victim to mighty rain storms, despite preceding months of sunshine and cloudless skies. On the evening before its scheduled opening on Saturday, October 3, vendors, volunteers, and bargain hunters turned on their televisions, watched fretful weather predictors displaying an array of computerized graphics, listened to ominous forecasts, and wondered if the time had come to contemplate a life of chastity and good works.

The following morning, pouring rain and bitter cold triggered a rapid series of actions. Event organizers plead their case to the local police precinct, which quickly reschedule the event on the following day, Sunday, October 4. Rain-soaked postings with the message, “NO PARKING SATURDAY” quickly gave way to crisp signs reading, “NO PARKING SUNDAY.” Word of the rescheduling traveled up and down West End Avenue and Riverside Drive. Block residents heaved a sigh, reassured that months of efforts had not been in vain.  Thank you to Caitlin Hawke who helped get the word out on the date change.

Weeks earlier, as summer turned to fall, residents had inventoried their recyclable treasures and had culled their personal libraries. Some had rented vending spaces to display their cast-off jewelry, clothing, books, games, kitchen tools, toys, and other household items. Others had donated their durable knickknacks to “What-A-Bargain,” their gently used valuables to the Silent Auction, and their neglected volumes to the Book Sale. In the days before the Yard Sale, the neighborhood’s warm hearts and hot ovens had produced an array of delights for the Bake Sale.

While residents had gathered merchandise, the Yard Sale team had obtained the necessary municipal permits to close the street for traffic and to open the block for a community celebration. It had negotiated with musicians and had arranged for staging and amplified sound. It had provided for hot coffee and fresh bagels to kick off activities and for a variety of savories to maintain momentum. It had solicited local merchants, restaurateurs, and cultural institutions for gift certificates to offer for bid at the Silent Auction. Every evening for weeks, it had set up a table on the corner of West End to sell tickets for the 50/50 Raffle.

On the morning of the Yard Sale, the team members wore navy T-shirts imprinted with the image of our block’s distinctive lampposts, as they swept the curbsides, chalked off the locations of street stalls, persuaded defiant car owners to park on neighboring streets, and posted signs directing the invading armies of volunteers, vendors, and bargain hunters. Meanwhile, vendors hauled boxes up the incline from Riverside Drive; furnished their curbside domains with folding chairs, wobbly tables, and display racks; and unpacked their merchandise. Putting the finishing touches on their displays, they paused to inspect the gray clouds and to wonder if they sun would ever shine.

By 10:00 AM, despite threatening weather, a trickle of diehard bargain hunters descended the slopes from West End Avenue to inspect the items on display at the stalls lining both sides of West 104th Street. Drifting from stall to stall, these seasoned shoppers surveyed the shelves and racks, evaluated the merchandise, and made their opening offers.

At noon, as the first performers took the stage and plucked the opening chords of their set, the clouds parted, and sunshine illuminated the neighborhood after days of clouds and rain. In seconds, a crowd of local residents emerged from theirs confines, inundated every stall, and restored the spirits of worried vendors.

Women paused before mirrors and held up vintage gowns and blouses for consideration. They modeled necklaces, bracelets, and rings for their companions while children shook game boxes and tested the viability of second-hand toys. Men scratched their heads as they inspected items last seen in the hardware stores of their childhoods.

As bargain hunters continued the chase, their fingers snapped and toes tapped to the subtle stylings of jazz guitarists Joe Giglio and Carl Sciabarra. Later, Shailah Edmonds  turned up the tempo and filled the air with Motown classics and the street with dancing. Unexpectedly, she honored our neighborhood with her own original lyrics to “Dancing in the Street,” which she tailored especially for our Yard Sale. Closing the show, the due tFoley Road performed rock, folk, pop, and blues favorites.

At 5:00 PM, vendors and shoppers joined forces to dismantle displays, to sweep the street, to collect garbage, and to raise a small mountain for the Sanitation Department to haul away. But, they retained their memories.

Some retained a lot more. The lucky winner of the 50/50 Raffle—Joseph DeArce—took home $1,227.50; second prize winner Orli Himmelweit received $100; and third prize winner Robin Wolf collected $50. Overall, the village of West 104th earned some $6,000 to maintain its safe, welcoming street lined with well-tended trees and flowers.

Check out all the photos of the 2015 Yard Sale.

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