Bastille Day Blitzes 60th Street

July 18, 2001, 12:00 AM EDT

French Institute/Alliance Francaise Bastille Day 2001 East 60th Street Sunday, 07.15.01, 12 PM to 6 PM
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Nothing's better than tons of French food, music, entertainment and people-watching on a perfect summer day, and the French Institute/Alliance Francaise's (FIAF) Bastille Day 2001 festival provided all of this for the masses of Francophiles that crowded East 60th Street from Fifth Avenue to Lexington. Brasserie Les Halles, cosmetic giant L'Oreal USA and media conglomerate Vivendi Universal sponsored the event.

Brasserie Les Halles hosted the block between Fifth and Madison, and held four races and offered a variety of entertainment for festival-goers. An American version of the Bastille Day waiters' race, a 24-year tradition in Paris, proved the most entertaining. Thirty waiters raced down the block wearing long aprons, balancing a bottle of champagne and two glasses on a tray in one hand and holding tiny French and American flags in the other hand. The winners, waiter Philippe Magnani of Le Petit Hulot and waitress Shannon Dunne of Le Marais each won a trip to France (courtesy of Air France), dinners and theater tickets in Paris, and bottles of Nicolas Feuillatte champagne.

Les Halles' block of the festival, organized by Philip Ruskin and Stephanie Teuwen of Teuwen One Image, also included cancan dancers (from Karen Cushman); juggler Matt Morgan and stiltwalker Mark Gindick (from Happy Hour Productions); mime Gregg Goldston dressed as a Pierrot character; and actors Adina Ruskin (of Asa Productions) and Mario Brassard, who strolled amongst the crowd in Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI costumes. For musical entertainment, chanteuse Nicole Renaud and the Gotham Playboys performed traditional French songs.

The remaining two blocks featured more musical entertainment and tastings from restaurants including D'Artagnan, Brasserie Julien, La Caravelle and Payard Patisserie & Bistro.

--Suzanne Ito

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