On a warm and muggy evening, thousands of Queens families enjoyed the sunset over the East River and the Grucci fireworks show that followed.
The spectacle, launched from Randall’s Island between the Triboro Bridge and the Hell Gate Bridge, drew “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd. Prior to the fireworks, the Patriot Brass Ensemble played classic tunes for everyone gathered on the lawn.
For Marie Torniali, executive director of the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition, the organization that puts it all together each year, the event is a celebration of all of the cultures that make up the neighborhood.
“This event really represents Astoria, if not the entirety of Queens, with its multiculturalism,” she said. “All of them want to celebrate the birthday of their adopted country.”
Torniali noted that the inclement weather earlier in the evening may have played a role in what looked like a sparser crowd that usual. But as the night went on, thousands of people filled the park with activity.
Among the attendees was Lauren Gyamfi, who now resides in Hell’s Kitchen, but lived in Astoria for more than four years. She watched the fireworks every year she lived in the neighborhood.
“In my opinion, besides Macy’s, which can’t be beat, this is the best fireworks show I’ve seen. I can’t wait to see it,” she said. “I love the spectacle of fireworks, it gets you in the mood for the Fourth of July.
“But it’s also a great time for families,” added Gyamfi, who brought her friend Jessica Friedman from the Upper East Side to enjoy the event. “It’s a great atmosphere to relax, unwind and listen to the band before the fireworks.”
Torniali said she hopes to continue the Astoria tradition for decades to come.
“It’s our signature event, 35 years and counting,” she said. “We hope to do 35 more.”