Bronx Albanians celebrate independence

Albanian pride can be seen fluttering high above the streets of the Bronx in honor of Albanian Independence Day on Saturday, November 28.

Through the Albanian American Community Association (AACA), with approval and cooperation from community boards and City Council members, Albanian flags can be admired on Morris Park Avenue from White Plains Road to Williamsbridge Road, on Williamsbridge Road from Morris Park Avenue to Pelham Parkway, on Lydig, Arthur and Crescent avenues, and on E. 187th Street.

More than 200 flags bearing the bold two-headed black eagle on a red background were installed between Friday, November 20 and Monday, November 23.

“It gives the Albanian community a sense of recognition and pride to see these flags up,” said Mark Gjonaj, co-founder of the AACA. “This is the first time something like this has been done.”

In honor of the Albania’s independence from the Ottoman Empire on November 28, 1912, numerous celebrations will be held this Saturday.

A commemorative flag raising will take place at E. 187th Street and Crescent Avenue at 10 a.m., and a mass will be held at 1:30 p.m. at Our Lady of Shkodra Church in Hartsdale.

A dinner celebration, open to the general public, will be held at Maestro’s Caterers at 7 p.m. and hosted by Vatra, an Albanian organization. Dukagjini Production will host a dinner at Eastwood Manor.

“We are all encouraged to attend more than one event on this day of festivities,” Gjonaj said. “Albanian Americans and non-Albanians alike are invited to attend the day of celebration of our independence as well as our shared ideals of freedom and liberty.”

According to Gjonaj, there are over 250,000 Albanians citywide and roughly 100,000 in the Bronx. It’s important for people to continue to celebrate their culture and heritage Gjonaj declared.

“It was spirit and desire and self-determination that led the Albanians to declare independence nearly 100 years ago from the Ottoman Empire,” he said. “On that day the Albanian flag was raised and over 500 years of foreign rule ended.”

Contact George Tonaj at (914) 484-7310 for more information about the Eastwood Manor dinner and Marjan Cubi at (914) 316-0045 for information about the Maestro’s celebration.

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