By Bill Parry
When Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks were returning back to the East River for the first time in five years, he made it clear it was all about the numbers and inclusion.
“This fits with one of the most fundamental ideas that’s guided my administration – the notion of inclusion. The notion of making sure that we get the wonderful attributes of this city to be enjoyed by the greatest number of people,” he said.
The nation’s largest pyrotechnic display moved to the Hudson River in 2009 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s discovery but did not return despite de Blasio’s “years of effort” while serving as the city’s public advocate.
The mayor cited the growing population in Queens and Brooklyn along the East River, including 2.3 million people in Queens and the 2.6 million in Brooklyn as the reasons for the move.
“You think of how much of the population is concentrated near the river, it’s just a way to reach more people,” de Blasio said. “It’s not only great for our citizens, it’s great for local businesses, it’ll be a great win for them as well.”
Adding to that business pitch, Borough President Melinda Katz said, “For those of you who come to western Queens and see our fireworks; Come early, shop in our stores, eat in our restaurants, and once you see the great things that the world’s borough of Queens has to offer, come back and do it again after the fireworks.”
The news was well-received in several restaurants and bars in Long Island City, where some still feel economic stress caused by flood damage during Hurricane Sandy.
“It’s great news, we finally have our fireworks back,” Riverview Restaurant owner Tony Raouf said. “It will help Long Island City tremendously.”
The Riverview, at 201 50th Ave., needed extensive repairs after it was flooded with 3 feet of water in the 2012 superstorm.
The Waterfront Crab House, at 203 Borden Ave., needed $500,000 worth of repairs in Sandy’s wake.
“That will really help pack the place that night,” Crab House manager Barbara Eden said.
At the LIC Bar, at 45-58 Vernon Blvd., the news was especially welcome. Damage at the music venue was extensive and 7 feet of saltwater from the East River destroyed its sound system, equipment and instruments.
The situation was so dire the rock super-group The Who donated equipment to help LIC Bar get back on its feet.
Just before Christmas, owner Brian Porter suffered another setback. A kitchen fire closed his Manhattan restaurant and it has yet to reopen.
“We could surely use a booster shot and we’re ecstatic at having the fireworks back, especially on a Friday night,” Gustavo Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez books the music acts at LIC Bar and is now working on a lineup of local talent to fill an outdoor show he will stage as a preliminary for the fireworks.
“When the fireworks are on the East River, it’s like Christmas here in LIC, I’ve never seen crowds like it before or since, it’s wonderful for business,” Rodriguez said.
The one-night boost to the economy is not confined to the waterfront, according to Rob MacKay, of the Queens Economic Development Corp.
“Not only for restaurants, bars and other businesses, but there are strategic places like rooftops that are poised for a big payday,” he said.
One of those locations is the Z Hotel, with its 5,000-square-foot rooftop lounge. The hotel is situated at 11-01 43rd Ave., just south of the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge.
“I am so excited. It is huge and it is about time the fireworks are back,” the hotel’s marketing director, Lisa Gneo, said. “We’re going to put together a wonderful plan of action for that night, for sure.”
But not everyone was happy to hear the news.
Gianna Cerbone-Teoli, owner of Manducatis Rustica, said, “I am going to close because it’s a Friday night and people will have been drinking all day long. The crowds come in to use the bathrooms, and that’s when trouble starts.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.