By Julie Shapiro
FINANCIAL DISTRICT — The first-ever Taste of the Seaport drew hundreds of people to Front Street Sunday afternoon to raise money for the Spruce Street School.
Modeled on the Taste of Tribeca, the food festival offered five "tastes" from local restaurants for $30. One ticket could buy, for example, spinach ravioli from Acqua, gumbo from Cowgirl Sea-Horse, avocado salad with caviar from SUteiShi, chocolate raspberry cupcakes from Made Fresh Daily and cider doughnuts from Samsara.
While grownups munched on their food and caught up with each other, kids raced around the street, dancing to live music and chalking their names on the sidewalk.
"It’s like a big block party," said Nancy Harris, principal of the Spruce Street School.
The event also had an important purpose: to raise tens of thousands of dollars for music, art and physical education programs at Spruce.
The funds will come in especially handy in light of the tight budget this year, Harris said.
Jacqueline Goewey, 45, whose twins are in kindergarten at Spruce, said the extra money would help students get the full education they deserve.
"If we want our kids to be able to do these things, we have to get out there and [raise money]," said Goewey, who also owns Made Fresh Daily on Front Street.
Like the other merchants who participated, Goewey donated her time and food to the cause.
Fernando Dallorso, owner of the bistro Stella and one of the organizers of the event, said his goal was to create camaraderie between the merchants and residents, while at the same time supporting Spruce.
That sense of community was what convinced Mame McCutchin, 41, to move from Harlem down to the Seaport this year so her daughter could attend kindergarten at the Spruce Street School, she said.
"Living in New York, there aren’t distinct neighborhoods, so finding community can be difficult," McCutchin said. "I like the intent of this — getting businesses involved and [building] a network."
Many of the people who attended the event just stumbled upon it while walking through the South Street Seaport, and they, too, enjoyed the friendly vibe.
"This is great — I love it," said Tiaisha Bland, 30, a Brooklyn resident, as she watched her 6-year-old son get his face painted. "We used to have things like this when I was a kid."