Fundraisers Call For Return Of East River Fireworks
Organizers of a child cancer fund that has helped dozens of young patients and their families are pleading with Macy’s officials to bring the July 4 fireworks display back to the East River.
The Patricia Manning Memorial Fund was established in 1989 by restaurateur Anthony Mazzarella and a group of Long Island City businessmen who realized a need for financial assistance for young cancer patients and their families.
The group, a chapter of the American Cancer Society, has sponsored several fundraisers each year for more than two decades, with all profits going directly to the youngsters.
“These are very hardworking people who changed the face of fundraising,” an American Cancer Society spokesperson said.
“They decided, when they first came on board, that there would be no ‘middleman’ in their chain of donations. Each and every cent collected is directed to the needs of the children and their families at a time when the financial strain can devastate people.”
Mazzarella, proprietor of the Waterfront Crab House at 2-03 Borden Ave., Long Island City, offered up parking spaces outside the iconic restaurant each July 4 for use by volunteers who turn the space into a block party. The festival opened each year at 11 a.m. and closed with a spectacular waterfront view of the Macy’s fireworks display, Mazzarella said.
“The fireworks brought hundreds of people to the fundraiser each year,” Mazzarella said. But when Macy’s officials moved the display to the Hudson River several years ago, the crowds dwindled and the fundraiser suffered a setback. “It’s nothing like before,” Mazzarella declared.
Over the years, the group renamed the charity, The Patti Fund, and has continued yearlong fundraising efforts, but the July 4 block party was always the big moneymaker, Mazzarella said.
The Patti Fund was established in memory of a young cancer patient who attended a Christmas Party each year at the Waterfront Crab House, volunteers said. Patricia Manning stood out from the crowd because of her winning personality and will to survive, volunteers said.
When Manning passed away in the late 1980s at age nine, Mazzarella and the group of organizers established the fund as a tribute to her short life and her battle with the disease.
Mazzarella said he understands why Macy’s officials moved the fireworks display, but he hopes they will consider bringing the Independence Day celebration back to the East River.
The group joins a chorus of Long Island City business owners who say they feel the sting of the missing fireworks.
“We had hundreds of people coming in and out of here each July 4,” one deli owner said. “People bought food, water, cigarettes and other items while they waited for the fireworks, but now they’re gone – and so is their money.”
A Macy’s spokesperson said the store owners are considering a return to the East River, but would not confirm when, or if the display would leave the Hudson River site.