2014-07-02 / Front Page

Celebrating Our Independence

BY JASON D. ANTOS


Fireworks by Grucci light up the night sky as they explode high above the Hell Gate Bridge. 
Photo Jason D. Antos Fireworks by Grucci light up the night sky as they explode high above the Hell Gate Bridge. Photo Jason D. Antos The Central Astoria Local Development Coalition’s (CALDC) 32nd Annual Independence Day Celebration was held on June 30, along the Astoria Park Waterfront.

More than 25,000 people went to Astoria Park to enjoy the annual fireworks celebration, which marked the beginning of the Annual Waterfront Concert Series.

The program started at 7:30 p.m. with a beautiful rendition of the “National Anthem” performed by Rebecca Pacuk, granddaughter of the late Julie Wager, who was the driving force behind the formation of the Annual Waterfront Concert Series. The Queens Symphony Orchestra, led by Director Constantine Kitsopoulos, entertained the crowd with a moving musical tribute to America and symphonic favorites, with hits from Broadway and Hollywood.

Elected officials were on hand to express their gratitude to CALDC and the people of Astoria and to emphasize the importance of the annual fireworks event. Councilmembers Jimmy Van Bramer and Costa Constantinides, state Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz were in attendance, as were CALDC President George Stamatiades, CALDC Executive Director Marie Torniali, Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski and NYPD Assistant Chief Diana Pizzuti.


Queens Borough President Melinda Katz welcomed the crowd of thousands, (many of whom came from other boroughs), to Queens for CALDC’s annual fireworks Independence Day celebration in Astoria Park. 
Photos Jason D. Antos Queens Borough President Melinda Katz welcomed the crowd of thousands, (many of whom came from other boroughs), to Queens for CALDC’s annual fireworks Independence Day celebration in Astoria Park. Photos Jason D. Antos A special recognition award was presented to Stamatiades for all his years of hard work and devotion to CALDC.

At 9:30 p.m. the Grucci team, who were set up on a high bluff on the other side of the East River near the Hell Gate Bridge started the fireworks show, which was greeted by the collective “wows” and “aahs” by the crowd.


(L. to r.); CALDC Executive Director Marie Torniali, Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, State Senator Michael Gianaris, Councilmember Costa Constantinides, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas and CALDC President George Stamatiades at the CALDC 32nd Annual Independence Day Celebration in Astoria Park. (L. to r.); CALDC Executive Director Marie Torniali, Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, State Senator Michael Gianaris, Councilmember Costa Constantinides, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, Assemblymember Aravella Simotas and CALDC President George Stamatiades at the CALDC 32nd Annual Independence Day Celebration in Astoria Park. The CALDC Waterfront Concert Series will continue every Thursday through August 14. Performances, which begin at 7:30 p.m. in Astoria Park, will include The Beatles tribute band, Strawberry Fields, on July 10, Forever Ray on July 17, The Devotions on July 24, Motor City Revue July 31, Michael Patrick’s Ring of Fire on August 7 and the Regulars on August 14.


A special recognition award was presented to CALDC President George Stamatiades for all his years of hard work and devotion to CALDC. A special recognition award was presented to CALDC President George Stamatiades for all his years of hard work and devotion to CALDC. The CALDC 2014 Waterfront Concert Series and Fireworks show is made possible through funding provided by Constantinides and Van Bramer, and in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the following corporate sponsors, including NRG, Kaufman Astoria Studios, Mount Sinai Queens, Atlantic Bank, Astoria Bank, Thomas M. Quinn & Sons Funeral Home, Alma Bank and Greiner- Maltz.

For more information, call 718-728-7820 or visit www.centralastoria.org.

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