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Flushing group to organize Independence Week events

For most Queens residents, Independence Day conjures up images of fireworks, barbecues and American flags.

But one business group hopes the holiday will also bring to mind downtown Flushing.

The Flushing Chinese Business Association is planning a five-day Independence Week Festival from July 2 to July 6.

"A lot of the politicians talk about wanting to bring the tourists to Flushing," said Fred Fu, president of the FCBA. "We want to do something, not only talk."

The festival combines elements of a typical July 4th celebration with Chinese culture.

The event starts on Wednesday, July 2. Vendors will congregate at College Point Boulevard and 39th Avenue beginning at 3 p.m.

At 7 p.m., the FCBA will present the Mets Expos game on two giant televisions. Once the game concludes, fireworks will go off at Shea Stadium, just across the Flushing River from downtown Flushing.

"The fireworks are almost on the river," Fu said. "(The view is) just as good as from Shea Stadium."

The following day the FCBA will hold International Food Night on 40th Road and Prince Street from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. The association will close off the street to traffic in the afternoon and evening.

"We'll put all the chairs and tables on the street so people can eat, just like in Little Italy," Fu said.

On Independence Day, vendors will congregate on Kissena Boulevard between Main Street and Sanford Avenue from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

On July 5-6, the FCBA will hold Multicultural Day at the Flushing Mall's parking lot on 39th Avenue and Prince Street from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The event will include dance and martial arts performances.

The festival expands upon a similar event held last year, when the FCBA organized Fireworks Night in conjunction with the Mets.

Last year's event was designed to attract tourists to downtown Flushing. In particular, Fu hoped ticket holders would come to Flushing for dinner before the game.

Fu admitted that few Mets fans stopped by Flushing before last year's game.

This year Fu hopes a larger event will help bring the Shea faithful.

"If the event is bigger, it's easier to attract people to come," he said.

The five-day event is part of the FCBA's efforts to revive the tradition of festivals in downtown Flushing. The organization has recently started to promote street fairs, following in the footsteps of the Flushing Fantastic, a large fair held during the 1970s.

Fu said the FCBA was trying to make the festival more diverse. In particular, he hopes vendors of all nationalities will come sell their wares at the event.

"We want American vendors," he said. "We don't just want Chinese vendors."

For more information about the festival, call 917-375-7740.

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

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