A daylong celebration of borough’s diversity set for Astoria

By Tammy Scileppi

The Central Astoria Local Development Coalition, famous for its Independence Day celebration, Astoria Park Carnival, and concerts on the waterfront, is adding another event to its repertoire to honor the neighborhood’s diversity.

Celebrate Astoria! International Cultural Fest will take place Saturday, May 30, on the Astoria Park Great Lawn, and the word around town is that this lively shin-dig will be one to remember.

Who can resist the taste of savory, delicious food, or the sound of exotic instruments, and the spectacle of colorful, traditional costumes? The festivities will also include plenty of kid-friendly activities, like face painting, and organizers will even send in the clowns with balloons.

Visitors will experience the true melting pot that is Astoria with cultural activities representing residents who hail from Bangladesh, Brazil, Ecuador, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Romania and Spain.

“We thank Council Member Constantinides for his vision in bringing an International Cultural Fest to Astoria, the personification of an immigrant community with its kaleidoscope of people from every part of the world,” Marie Torniali, executive director of Central Astoria LDC, said. “Presenting so many cultural traditions on one stage in Astoria Park celebrating Astoria is an opportunity to showcase traditions of many different ethnic groups. This event also complements our 30-plus year tradition of bringing the American music tradition to multi-cultural audiences. We hope to make this an annual event.”

The festival lineup includes Dahdoo-Music of North Africa and the Middle East; the Bangladeshi Dance Troupe; Spanish Flamenco Dance from the American Bolero Company; the Calpulli Mexican Dance Company; Pontion Society Komninoi Dancers; Ayazamana Cultural Center’s Ecuadorian Dance; Issa Cabrera Songs from Brazil; the Japanese Folk Dance Institute; Niall O’Leary Irish Step Dancers; Banatual Romanian Folklore Dance, and Filippo with the Songs of Italy.

Since Borough President Melinda Katz’s slogan, “The World’s Borough” is emblazoned on road signs at major thoroughfares entering Queens, visitors from far and wide are always reminded that everyone is welcome here, and will now have the opportunity to experience everything the festival has to offer.

The City Dept. of Cultural Affairs Immigrant Initiative, designed to provide cultural programming in immigrant communities throughout the city, is the brainchild of City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), chairman of the Council’s Cultural Affairs Committee.

Funding for this program has been provided by City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), under this initiative.

“Astoria is a perfect example of the general enrichment that takes place when people from different cultures live together in harmony. The park’s stunning views will add to the positive vibe,” Rob MacKay, from the Queens Economic Development Corp., said.

If you go

International Cultural Fest

When: Saturday, May 30 — rain date Sunday, May 31, from noon -5 pm

Where: Astoria Park’s Great Lawn, 19th Street between Ditmars Boulevard and Astoria Park South

Cost: Free

Contact: (718) 728-7820

Website: centralastoria.nyc