Residents once again flocked to Orchard Beach to kick off the July 4th weekend with Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and Senator Jeff Klein.
The two officials hosted on Thursday, June 30 the annual ‘New York Salutes America’ festival.
Attendees were able to to enjoy music originally recorded by Bronx greats such as Dion, Grand Master Flash and Bobby Darin.
They were also able to enjoy all types of food from hot dogs and hamburgers to empanadas.
Klein and Diaz greeted, shared laughs and also took photos with members of the community.
“This event is always a great way to kickoff New York City’s Independence Day festivities, and I was proud to join Senator Klein and tens of thousands of our fellow Bronxites as we enjoyed an amazing fireworks show and a wonderful evening at the beach for the annual ‘New York Salutes America’ Fireworks Extravaganza,” said Diaz.
Diaz also touted that, although each of the five boroughs would be having Fourth of July festivals and fireworks shows, the Bronx would be the first.
Diaz and Klien officiated the second annual empanada eating contest during which Diaz rapped along to old-school hip hop blaring through the speakers to keep the crowd engaged and excited.
Bronxites Antonio Matos and Helen Bengcion took home the first place prize for the men and women, respectively, and received gift baskets for their eating prowess.
After the contest, residents danced to live music and awaited fireworks, which would appear, across Long Island Sound.
“Every year I look forward to celebrating with food, fireworks and fun at our ‘New York Salutes America’ extravaganza. I was proud to join Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. to host this cherished tradition for our Bronxites this year. I was honored to mark our nation’s independence along with tens of thousands of Bronx families, as we let freedom ring this Fourth of July,” said Klein.
Klein also acknowledged that the Bronx’s diversity was on display.
“The Bronx has always been diverse and it’s also a borough of neighborhoods and I think we have really a great cross section of the entire Bronx here today,” he said.
He added, “It’s our way of saying thank you, it’s a great way to kick of the Fourth of July weekend - celebrating not only our veterans, the meaning of the fourth of July - but also the borough.”
The senator also said the festival has “become a tradition which is important to me.”
“It’s always good to put the Bronx on the map,” he added. “Manhattan has the Macy’s day parade and we have our Bronx Fireworks Extravaganza.”