Growing Up Astoria, the community group that brings residents — new and old — together hosted their 5th annual reunion celebration at the newly opened Katch Brewery & Grill in Astoria on Saturday.
Scott Derenzo and Vincent Serio, who founded the group, said they started it to reconnect with friends and family.
“About five years ago, we started a Facebook page because we were trying to find a way to reconnect with people from Astoria,” Serio said. “Even if they can’t make it here, they can connect on the internet or come and meet at our reunions and be able to find loved ones and just kind of connect again.”
Up until this year, the reunion had always been held at Bohemian Hall but after several meetings, the founders of Growing Up Astoria decided to work with Katch, located at 31-19 Newtown Ave.
“Katch has rolled out the red carpet for us,” Derenzo said. “They really pulled out all the stops for us and have been a great place to work with.”
The group sold bracelets to attendees that entitled them to beer and drink specials all day, Growing Up Astoria and Katch Brewery giveaways including T-shirts and keychains, beer and liquor sponsors giving away free items all day and discounts on hotel accommodations.
The event was deemed a success as more than 500 people came from all over the country to celebrate one thing: Astoria.
“It started out with just people who were born here but now it’s blown up,” Serio said. “People moving to Astoria or born in Astoria or who moved from Astoria can all connect. The neighborhood has changed a lot but things change. Some of the changes were good and some bad but the neighborhood is still full of different people of different ethnic groups who enjoy one another.”
Up next, Growing Up Astoria may host a Halloween or holiday party. Derenzo said people were already looking forward to next year’s reunion.
“We got such good feedback so we have to keep this going,” Serio said. “I think a holiday party would be great and it’d allow us to see each other more often, so I’m all for it.”