THROGS NECK - Precipitation couldn?t keep merchants and residents from attending the first Throgs Neck street fair in 10 years.

Bronx residents gathered on East Tremont Ave. Saturday for a sampling of free food and other giveaways from stores. Business owners say the event was held to encourage residents to continue shopping locally.

?Keep your neighborhood strong,? say John Cerrin of the Throgs Neck Merchant Association. ?If you don?t shop in your neighborhood, there will be vacant stores and nobody wants that.?

Shop owners told News 12 The Bronx that the free merchandise was a sign of appreciation to the customers. They are looking to spread the message that customers can find what they need in Throgs Neck stores and don?t need to venture out of the borough to shop.