Annual fireworks on the beach saved; music series snuffed

The legendry Chubby Checker, one of the best know recording artists of the 1960s, gets up close and personal with fans in Loreto Park at a ‘Summertime Symphony’ in 2015. The free concerts were sponsored by former Senator Jeff Klein.
File Photo

Elections have consequences and the recent ouster of a seasoned pol is giving that claim very local implications.

The election of a new state senator, Alessandra Biaggi, in the 34th Senatorial District, that covers Throggs Neck, Pelham Bay, City Island, Morris Park and parts of lower Westchester, nearly jeopardized one popular boroughwide event and signaled the death of another.

Bronx residents were happy to learn that despite Biaggi’s lack of interest in continuing the borough’s annual homage to American independence at Orchard Beach, it still went off on Thursday, June 27 to the delight of thousands of Bronxites.

The Bronx Tourism Council stepped up to the plate and produced the event, continuing the Grucci-provided fireworks display tradition.

Senator Jeff Klein had initiated the fireworks show in 2005 and until recently partnered with Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., to present the spectacular evening.

When he lost his primary race to the political novice there were concerns the funding would fall short since Biaggi did not consider it one of her priorities.

Councilman Mark Gjonaj, rejecting the possibility of the event being cancelled, was able to kick in the necessary funding to keep the extravaganza alive.

“I think it is an incredible event,” said Gjonaj, “I am looking forward to sponsoring this event and improving it each year.”

“We are all proud of our country’s independence, but in particular this allows all Bronxites to come together in our ‘Rivera,’ Orchard Beach, for a fun day at the beach and evening of fireworks,” said the councilman.

Borough President Diaz said that the Orchard Beach fireworks shows are one of his favorite summer traditions and called them “truly an iconic Bronx experience.”

“There is nothing that compares to the energy of our community coming together and our fireworks display is perfect for the whole family to enjoy together as we celebrate the birth of America,” said Diaz. “Thank you to Councilman Mark Gjonaj for partnering with me this year to continue this annual tradition.”

Other sponsors of the explosive beach celebration included the Westchester Square Business Improvement District, the City Island Chamber of Commerce, Manhattan Beer, Con Edison, Gjonaj Group, Atlantic Development Group, CAMBA Housing and Mullaney & Gjelaj.

A number of City Island restaurants also participated.

Another Klein tradition, the summer concert series known as ‘Summertime Symphonies’ won’t be funded this year either.

Al D’Angelo, Morris Park Community Association president, said that Klein’s concerts, which mainly drew a 50-year-old plus crowd and featured popular acts from 60s, would be missed because they unified the community.

“People over here in Morris Park loved the concerts,” said D’Angelo. “They would fill (Loreto Park). Every time we had a concert, the place was packed.”

With just six months under her belt, Biaggi said in a statement that her focus “has been to transform our community and state by passing progressive legislation and ensuring that our taxpaying dollars are allocated to important district programs.”

She stated that aside from a legislative record that included 17 passed bills, she secured $795,000 for her district.

The senator recently sponsored the Summer Solstice and Wellness Celebration at the New York Botanical Garden, which featured live music, gardening activities, cooking demonstrations and yoga.

“It is my hope and intention that my office will have the privilege and resources to do additional events like this in the future,” she stated.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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