The Rockets Red Glare
The skies above the East River as seen from Astoria Park lit up as more than 20,000 people gathered in awe on June 30 to celebrate America’s birthday. The fireworks, provided by the Grucci Family, went off at 9:15 p.m., lighting up the skies between the Hell Gate Bridge and Robert F. Kennedy Triborough Bridge.
The fireworks display came after the Astoria Symphony Orchestra performed in front of a crowd on the Astoria Park Lawn. The lawn was filled with people sitting and standing as children blew bubbles and played with glow-in-the-dark swords sold by vendors.
The orchestra chimed away to a piece conducted by David Leibowitz entitled, “Hands Across the Sea”. Leibowitz told the crowd to listen closely as they will hear the sound of waves.
The celebration and musical performance kicked off the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition’s (CALDC) 29th Annual Waterfront Concert Series at Astoria Park. The series will continue Thursday evenings from July 14 through August 11 and will include performances by The Infernos, Nashville Attitude, The Manhattan Skyline, George Gee Swing Orchestra and Joey Dee and the Starliters. CALDC President and Master of Ceremonies George Stamatiades welcomed the crowd and thanked the sponsors who made the celebration possible.
Marie Torniali and a standing crowd as they sang the National Anthem and said the Pledge of Allegiance.
City Comptroller John Liu addressed the audience and said he was pleased to be a part of the celebration and thanked everyone for coming.
Sponsors of this year’s event include Vallone —historically a major source of funding for the concert and fireworks— support from Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, corporate sponsors, including NRG, Kaufman Astoria Studios, Atlantic Bank, Astoria Federal, Mount Sinai of Queens, Thomas M. Quinn and Sons, Inc., Saint Michael’s Cemetery, Quontic Bank and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
The East River used to be home to the annual Fourth of July fireworks display by Macy’s but for the past three years, the Hudson River has been its home. Queens residents have since flocked to Astoria Park for the fireworks display and fireboat show.
Fireboats, courtesy of the fire department, made an appearance once again this year, sprayed water into the East River, delighting the excited crowd.
Elected officials and CALDC’s board of directors were thrilled with the outcome, especially since the weather was perfect, and more people attended than in previous years.
The sky exploded in a sea of colors as the fireworks display went on for more than 30 minutes ending with an exuberant crowd cheering, “U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A.”
Stamatiades invited the crowd back next year, as it will be the 30th anniversary of the celebration, and so will be an even greater event.