The floor of Puck Fair was pounding on Friday as patrons wished the Soho pub a rising road. Perched atop the bar with a guitar, Pierce Turner led his string quartet through a full set and then an hour-long encore. As he walked along the length of the bar (half a city block), a sing-along boomed up to the high ceiling. Violins and cello responded from the balcony, creating an exchange that shook the house like, well, a wrecking crew.
When Pierce finally gave his bow, owners Danny MacDonald and Frank Masano climbed to the balcony to thunderous applause. Once the room finally quieted down, they thanked their family and friends for 16 years of love and support. Almost overwhelmed by the appreciation coming from the crowd below, Danny raised his hand and pointed to them. “And,” he stated, “this is not goodbye!” Everyone cheered and whistled as he repeated himself louder.
Earlier this month, Gothamist reported that the bar was told clear out. “The powers that be are making way for a new development on our corner of Lafayette Street,” the bar confirmed on Facebook. The BP on the corner of Houston Street will also be razed and a seven story office-retail building will go up in their place.
Back downstairs, Danny and Frank were greeted by handshakes, hugs, and pats on the back as they were swallowed up by a sea of folks they treasure dearly. Puck Fair’s patrons partied into Holy Saturday and then into Easter Sunday. During the afternoon, folks in their Sunday best, quite a few with Irish brogues, mixed with the tourists and kids playing with their chicken fingers as sunshine passed through the big windows fronting Lafayette Street. The crowd matured along with the hour and it wasn’t long before the tears were flowing.
I couldn’t find one sober person as I waited to take the final portrait of everyone. Just before 5 a.m., people were standing atop tables, singing louder than the music that had been turned off an hour before.
Years from now when a shadow falls further over Houston Street than it used to, I’ll remember this wonderful combination of hops and humans rather than the concrete and cranes. It may not be the end, but Puck Fair will always be missed.