by Maria Fitzsimons, Chronicle Contributor
Despite the rainy weather earlier in the day and the damp grounds of Astoria Park’s lawn, about 1,500 people came out on Monday evening for a kickoff celebration for the summer season with a fireworks display over the East River courtesy of Grucci, the fireworks company.
The Central Astoria Local Development Coalition’s Independence Day Celebration marked its 30th anniversary. Elected officials Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), and Assemblymember Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) were among those on hand to show their support.
The weekday festivities, which some may have preferred on a weekend, were “no problem at all” to attend for Astoria residents Chris Giambrone and her husband, Anthony, who came to the Independence celebration event for the very first time despite living in the community for 30 years.
“Last year we heard about it too late,” said Chris Giambrone, who went online to ensure the couple wouldn’t miss it again.
“We listened to the weather report; they said it would clear up and we came,” said Anthony Giambrone.
“Everyone’s going to have a good time; a thing to do for New Yorkers,” he added.
The evening featured musical performances by Joe Battaglia & The New York Big Band. The ensemble’s frontman Battaglia has performed with musical legends Frank Sinatra and Astoria hometown hero Tony Bennett. The band also showcased Isreali vocalist Keren Zobotaro, who’s performed as an opening act for Alicia Keys and sang backing vocals for Macy Gray’s sophomore album.
Also featured was United We Sing, three female vocalists and former members of the USO of Metropolitan New York Show troupe, who donned retro-style clothes in red, white and blue and wore matching white sailor caps. The trio sang patriotic songs and proved to be a huge hit with the large crowd.
President of Central Astoria George Stamatiade, left, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria), Executive Director of Central Astoria Marie Torniali, state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) and Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) enjoy the fireworks.
Madison Cruz, Jessica Doyle, Savannah Espino and Cassey Cruz are all smiles at the event.
About 1,500 people enjoyed the fireworks display and music at Monday night’s event.
Allie Estrada, left, Ashley Cobos, Andrea Estrada, Bernardo Cano and Nicholas Ordenes pose with their sweet treats.
United We Sing performs at dusk.
Fireworks launched by the Long Island-based Grucci company.