For the fourth summer in a row, there will be no Fourth of July fireworks on the East River, and no place for Queens’ residents to see them in the borough. Instead, the 36th Annual Macy’s July 4 Fireworks will again take place on the Hudson River.
Restaurants near Long Island City’s Gantry Plaza State Park, a popular spot for viewing fireworks when they were on the East River, have seen the effects of the fireworks’ relocation. Since they moved, restaurants have fewer customers on July 4. Though some report greater differences than others do.
At Riverview Restaurant & Lounge there has been a significant difference for the last three Independence Days. Located just across from Gantry Park, at 2-01 50th Avenue, it was a tradition for people to come to the restaurant and watch the fireworks, said Riverview’s event coordinator, Doris Nowillo. Whether inside or outside, people could see them because of the restaurant’s large windows.
When the fireworks were on the East River, about 200 people would come to the restaurant, but now it is less crowded than an average night, she said.
Even after three years, people still call the restaurant, not knowing that the fireworks are only on the Hudson this year. After we tell them, they hang up and don’t make a reservation, said Nowillo.
“[July 4] would triple our business,” said Mimi McKenna, a hostess at The Waterfront Crabhouse (2-03 Borden Avenue). There used to be people lined up outside waiting for a table, but for the past few years, no one has had to wait to be seated, she added.
Italian restaurant Bella Via has seen about a 20 percent drop in customers since the fireworks relocated, but still does good business on the holiday, said owner Sal Polito.
Though the restaurant no longer has as many customers from other Queens neighborhoods, as it did when the fireworks were on the East River, it’s still busier on July 4 than other nights, said Polito.
Ryan Linchow, manager of Pan-Asian fusion restaurant Shi, at 4720 Center Boulevard, just across from Gantry Park, said that since the fireworks moved his restaurant has also had a 20 percent drop in customers on the Fourth of July. But “last year was still really busy,” he added.
It’s not just local restaurants that are pushing for the fireworks to return to the East River. “If there was a petition [to bring the fireworks back to the East River], all of Long Island City would sign it,” said Nowillo of Riverview Restaurant and a 37-year L.I.C resident.
Nowillo got her wish. On June 28, State Senator Daniel Squadron, whose district includes parts of Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan, and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio announced an online petition demanding that the fireworks return to the East River. Squadron and de Blasio, along with Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, will meet with Macy’s in the coming weeks to move the fireworks back to the East River in 2013.
“What we all were told was a one-year hiatus on the Hudson has now become the new norm—leaving more than half the city out of the July 4 celebration,” said de Blasio at a press conference on June 28. “We look forward to sitting down with Macy´s to find a way to bring the show back to the East River, where more New Yorkers can be a part of it.”
In early April, Squadron along with other Brooklyn and Queens politicians, including Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who represents Long Island City, sent a letter to Macy’s chairman, president and CEO, Terry Lundgren, urging him to bring the fireworks back to the East River this July 4. But they couldn’t convince the department store to make the move this year.
On July 3, following the 7:10 p.m. Mets game vs. the Phillies, the Mets will have its annual fireworks night at Citi Field.