Bronxites Salute America

By Lennin Reyes

In 2002, then-State Senator Guy Velella helped organize the first Bronx Salutes America event at Orchard Beach as an alternative to the Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks in Manhattan.

Little would anyone know at the time that the Bronx fireworks would grow into a big celebration.

In its tenth anniversary, thousands crowded the Bronx Riviera’s boardwalk to get a good glimpse of the display over the Long Island Sound. “It is a great opportunity to celebrate the Bronx, the great democracy of America and to kick off the start of the Fourth of July season,” Jeffrey Klein, who succeeded Velella in the State Senate, said. “It’s better than [the Macy's fireworks on the Hudson River].”

The Independence Day celebration could not be complete without the presence of war veterans. “It’s tough for us vets to see the fireworks because of they bring back memories of the war.,” Vietnam War veteran Johnny H. Williams Jr., 64, (right) said. “However, we have to keep moving forward.”

Joining the veterans were hundreds of New York’s finest patrolling the crowds at Orchard Beach. But some recent retired officers, including ex-detective Sara Salerno, 42, could not stay away from the Bronx Riviera’s pyrotechnic display. “In the beginning, I had to protect the people,” Salerno said while enjoying a drink with her daughter Lindsay Murillo, 12. “Now I’m enjoying it in a different view, as a civilian.”

In addition to the fireworks, there was a Zumba workout, a face-painting clown, and a performance from Throggs Neck band Alive N’ Kickin’.

Throgs Neck’s own Alive N’ Kickin’

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