Fireworks and a message of unity on July 4th

Fireworks on the East River (Photo by Edward O’Rourke)

By Sabina Mollot

On July 4, thousands gathered at Waterside Plaza to view the fireworks from windows as well as outdoor areas on the complex. This year, with the barges centered solely on the East River from 24th to 41st Streets, the complex got an even more enviable viewpoint than usual. The roughly 25-minute display sponsored by Macy’s showcased 2,200 effects per minute from each of the five barges.

The event even drew a visit from Mayor Bill de Blasio who stopped by before the fireworks to discuss immigrant rights on Independence Day. He spoke about the travel ban and how if people are feeling disenfranchised by the Trump administration, they could fight back by remembering that New York is an immigrant-friendly place.

De Blasio, who began by saying it was his first time visiting Waterside, called it “pretty amazing. I’m seeing everything good about New York City in one place.”

He continued, “This is the day our country was founded so we have to go back and remember what it’s supposed to be about. Do not get overwhelmed by the results of a single election and do not let a single politician change your values. It’s not acceptable to have a Muslim ban or exclusions based on religion. We celebrate the truth of our founding fathers. We believe this is supposed to be a place for everybody.”

He then called on the crowd to reject any kind of scapegoating for society’s problems.

“We are all immigrants. Some of us came willingly. Some of us came unwillingly, (but) we work together to solve our problems.”

Waterside Plaza general manager Peter Davis, Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Waterside owner Richard Ravitch (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Soon after the mayor’s remarks, the sentiments were echoed by Waterside owner and developer Richard Ravitch, who’d put together a short film about the diversity at Waterside.

The film began with a clip of President Donald Trump declaring, “The American dream is dead.” In response, Ravitch insisted that it was not. He also discussed the different cultures at the complex, where many residents work for the United Nations.

“It’s important for all of us to remind ourselves all the time that we gain strength from our diversity,” Ravitch said in the film, which was shown on a screen outdoors on the plaza. “It’s what enabled us to become leaders of the free world.”

Stilt walkers (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Along with the opportunity to view the Macy’s fireworks up close, those at Waterside on the fourth enjoyed hot dogs, burgers and snacks on the plaza along with entertainment that included East Coast, a band playing popular hits, a roving magician, a puppet show, stilt walkers, caricature artists and a photo booth.

However, any would-be guests who’d thought they’d just stop by at the last minute were out of luck as access to the property was heavily guarded. Entry was via wristband access only with residents having been made to register their guests ahead of time, and all visitors being made to get through a police checkpoint at First Avenue and then once at the property, a metal detector.

Along with the mayor, other guests included Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

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