The 4th July
Ozone Park, Queens, New York
John Gotti, head of the Gambino crime family, was not only notorious for organized crime, but for throwing block parties. Independence Day was the Godfathers favorite holiday and for over 20 years on the 4th, he would foot the bill for an annual neighborhood firework show. Free barbecue steak, burgers & hot dogs, games for the kids, and a spectacular firework show to top the old fashioned neighborhood event. This was held outside the infamous Bergin Hunt and Fish Club on 101st Avenue in Ozone Park, NY. A place few in the neighborhood admit to having ever been inside. Sometimes Gotti would emerge from the heavily guarded club and give a wave to the crowd, the cheers got louder. Some people had come out just to catch a glimpse of famous mobster.
This annual neighborhood event would continue, even after Gotti was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 1992. However the tradition would come to an end in 1997, due to Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Since then, the neighborhood kids haven’t been able to pop even a firecracker on 101st Avenue and 98th Street since 1997.
Mayor Rudy Giuliani disliked many things. They included, in no particular order, unauthorized firework displays, people who defied him, and the mafia. Mr. Giuliani flooded that part of Queens with enough police officers to make even the people of Falluja, Iraq, behave themselves. Members of the community came out in force to protest the change. It wasn't enough. The neighborhood saw Gotti not as a mobster, but more as a sympathetic hero. He would donate large sums of money to the local churches charities. To them, he was a modern day Robin Hood. Many in the neighborhood said that Mr. Gotti had been good to them, no matter what he may have been accused of doing.
Footage From An Actual Gotti Block Party