Celebration Marks 30th
The Central Astoria Local Development Coalition (CALDC) held their 30th Annual Independence Celebration June 25 on the Astoria Park lawn in Astoria, between Hell Gate Bridge and Astoria Pool. By the evening the severe thunder showers let up and an estimated 25,000 people flocked to the free event. CALDC President George L. Stamatiades and Executive Director Marie Torniali, Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., Assemblymember Aravella Simotas and state Senator
Mike Gianaris were there to lead the festivities.
Featured musical guests included Joe Battaglia and the New York Big Band and United We Sing, a trio who have performed for American troops. The New York Big Band has played Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing, the Supper Club, Rainbow Room and the Tavern on the Green and political fundraisers—most recently for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The FDNY fireboat show followed the music, spouting thousands of gallons of red, white and blue water up into the air and then the grand finale of the evening, the Grucci fireworks spectacular, took place from Wards Island.
The Independence Celebration was started by Julie Wager, founding president of CALDC, and has been carried forward by Stamatiades. It was Stamatiades who thanked corporate sponsors NRG, Kaufman Astoria Studios, Atlantic Bank, Astoria Federal, Greiner Maltz Investment Properties, Mount Sinai Queens, Thomas M. Quinn & Sons and Vallone for their support. Vallone, a longtime supporter of the Independence Celebration noted that he was pleased that he has been able to secure funding for this great community event over the years.
New Yorkers used to watch Macy’s annual fireworks display on the East River but three years ago, it was moved to the Hudson River. Queens residents have since increasingly flocked to Astoria Park for their own fireworks display and fireboat show.
Monday’s celebration kicked off CALDC’s 30th Annual Waterfront Concert Series at Astoria Park. The series will continue on Thursday evenings with performances by the Swingtime Big Band on July 12, Whitley & the Hard Times Band and Forever Ray on July 19, the 1910 Fruitgum Company on July 26, Road House Band on August 2 and concluding with Bon Journey (a tribute to Bon Jovi and Journey) on August 9.