A Corona street was renamed Saturday in honor of an Ecuadorian monument as a way to pay tribute to the neighborhood’s Ecuadorian community.
The southeast corner of Elmhurst Avenue and 94th Street is now known as “Mitad del Mundo” — “Center of the World” — after the 30-foot-tall monument in the South American nation that marks a portion of the equator that runs through the country.
The office of City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) said the phrase “Mitad del Mundo” has “particular meaning for Ecuadorians, who proudly see themselves as representatives of both hemispheres and true world citizens.”
“The Ecuadorian community in Queens is one of the largest concentrations of Ecuadorians anywhere in the world and their cosmopolitan outlook and creative energies enliven New York City and help make it the greatest city in the world,” Ferreras said in a statement.
The ceremony Saturday was conducted entirely in Spanish and featured remarks from the area’s elected officials and Ecuador’s consulate general in New York and a subminister of the Ecuadorian embassy in Washington, D.C.
Before the unveiling of the sign, Ecuadorian children in traditional clothing performed Ecuadorian folk dances.
But the celebration took a sour turn due to the appearance of former state Sen. Hiram Monserrate and girlfriend Karla Giraldo, who showed up uninvited to the event.
Chants of, “Hey hey, ho ho, Hiram Monserrate has got to go!” rang out, with Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) among the chanters.
Peralta replaced Monserrate in the Senate after Monserrate was kicked out of the body by his colleagues last year following his misdemeanor assault conviction for slashing Giraldo’s face with a broken glass.
Giraldo, who is Ecuadorian, screamed, saying the elected officials were disrespecting her heritage.
Earlier at the event, Ferreras was also the subject of protest as several picketers criticized her over a payment dispute involving a former intern.
Nathan Smith, a spokesman for Monserrate’s state Assembly foe, Francisco Moya, said the intern’s uncle, Charlie Castro, was a former Monserrate staffer and accused Monserrate of encouraging the protest to disturb the ceremony.
“We are running a non-confrontational campaign,” Smith said. “Sometimes it’s difficult to run a non-confrontational campaign when Hiram’s involved, as witnessed by the street renaming.”
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2010 Community News Group
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