Fourth of July picnic celebrates freedom with free rock concert

Blowout: Five-year-old Alec O’Brien of Windsor Terrace shows off his patriotism in balloon form at the Fourth of July picnic in Bay Ridge.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Nobody celebrates Independence Day like Bay Ridge!

Brooklyn’s most patriotic neighborhood rang in the 237th anniversary of America’s birth with its sixth-annual Fourth of July picnic in Shore Road Park.

Some 2,000 people poured into the greenspace’s 82nd Street Field even as the heat index flirted with 100 degrees. As a line-up of six local bands rocked out onstage, adults guzzled liquids and children danced in the sprinklers.

“It was hot, but we had enough water and kept everybody hydrated,” said organizer Chip “Festival Guy” Cafiero.

Cafiero handed out to attendees more than $1,000 worth of gift certificates to be redeemed at Bay Ridge businesses. And hundreds of raffle tickets were sold with proceeds going to the 68th Precinct Community Council and the Southwest Brooklyn Parks Task Force.

The highlight of the 10-hour event, according to Cafiero, was a performance by tenor Daniel Rodriguez, a New York City police officer who was two blocks away from the World Trade Center on 9-11, and became famous as a singer in the days and weeks afterward. Rodriguez enthralled the crowd with performances of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless the U.S.A.”

“The whole crowd, everybody had goosebumps,” said Cafiero. “I had people crying, falling over with the emotion.”

The concert wrapped up with 15 members from the different bands wowing the audience with a patriotic jam session on John Mellencamp’s “Little Pink Houses” and several Bob Dylan songs.

“They mixed it up good,” said Cafiero. “Everybody was wild, waving flags.”

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

More from Around New York