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Fun - And Fireworks - At Gotti’s Party, Despite Police Ban

July 5, 1989 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ A police ban on fireworks at the annual Fourth of July block party thrown by reputed mobster John Gotti failed to dampen the spirits of thousands of revelers - or keep the nighttime skies dark.

Gotti has thrown an Independence Day bash for some 20 years at the site of his hangout, the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club, and ended the party with a blaze of pyrotechnics.

A warning from the local police precinct failed to stop the show last year, and Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward vowed his department wouldn’t be embarrassed again.

But Tuesday night, the presence of scores of police failed to stop men on rooftops from sending off rockets to the cheers of crowds on the streets. Shortly before, taunts of ″Pigs go home″ and ″We want the works″ were heard.

Police, who had told the party’s organizers fireworks would be illegal without a permit, said the rocket-throwers apparently were mavericks. They issued one summons for possession of illegal fireworks but made no arrests.

Officers lined barricades on each side of the block and closed off streets for four blocks in every direction, except to cars driven by local residents.

″Gotti 3/8 Gotti 3/8 Gotti 3/8″ the crowd cheered as their host, the 48-year-old reputed head of the Gambino crime family, emerged briefly from the club that authorities call his headquarters.

Gotti is under indictment in the attempted murder of a union leader. But grateful locals had no trouble downing his hamburgers, grilled under the supervision of two of the host’s brothers.

″He’s got a good heart,″ said Sal Ceffali, who attended with his wife and two grandsons. ″He takes care of people in the community,″ added his wife, Sally. ″You’re not afraid to walk around at night.″