Iris Nunez of Kingsbridge, 55, bounced down River Avenue.
“I’m sick to death,” Nunez said. “My legs are killing me, my back. But I’m here. I took 20 pills this morning because I love the Yankees. The Yankees are my life.”
Steps away, on E. 161st Street, Joshua Berios, 14, tuned his guitar. Berios belongs to Renaissance EMS, a south Bronx youth group.
“We’re going to play with Bernie Williams,” Berios said.
Nearby, St. Francis de Chantal School principal Debra Trignani and her students beamed.
“We’re thrilled to be a part of history,” Trignani said.
On Thursday, April 2, Bronxites young and old explored the Yankees’ flashy new ballpark and celebrated the opening of a stadium-side Hard Rock Café.
The Bronx Bombers played catch. Williams joined Renaissance EMS for Take Me Out to the Ball Game. The five-time all-star and jazz guitarist will release his second album on April 19.
“It feels great to be here,” Williams said. “The new stadium and Hard Rock Café are going to make the Bronx a destination.”
Musicians, fans and dignitaries smashed Yankees guitars to mark the café’s opening. Rock star Ace Frehly, hip-hop pioneer Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, super-fan Freddy “Sez” Schuman and Bronx Chamber president Lenny Caro took part.
“I’m a Bronx boy,” Frehly, of KISS fame, said. “I grew up on Mosholu Parkway. This is the best.”
According to Caro, the café will employ more than 100 people, many of them Bronxites.
“When a well-known enterprise like Hard Rock invests in the Bronx, it sends the world a positive signal,” Caro said.
April 2 was the club’s first workout in the $1.5 billion ballpark, which took three years to build.
A crowd of 20,000 ogled Derek Jeter, a hundred-foot video screen and a replica of the Yankees’ 1923 rooftop frieze.
The day dawned sunny and mild. Bronxites reveled in the grass, the hot dogs, the grounders – the trappings of spring. Beer sold for $6, plantain chips $4, a sandwich $9.75.
Janet Rios of Kingsbridge said, “I snagged a bleacher seat for July 20. I was online for hours.”
The Hard Rock Café will be open all year round. April 2 was Nene Ali’s first time inside either Yankee Stadium.
“It’s very exciting,” said Ali, who attends JHS 142 in Baychester. “I watch the Yankees on TV.”
Thomas Puleo of Morris Park, 12, agreed. Puleo plays with the Van Nest Little League.
“I feel honored to be here,” he said.