Thousands of people flocked to Coney Island Avenue Sunday to celebrate Pakistan’s independence day with food, dancing, and an appearance by Mayor Bill de Blasio – the first mayor in 20 years to attend the Brooklyn Mela festivities in New York City’s largest Pakistani community.
Photo by Rob Bennett/NYC Mayor’s Office
“This Brooklyn Mela symbolizes a community that has grown,” de Blasio told the sea of people in front of him at Coney Island Avenue and Avenue H Sunday afternoon. “…This is a community that’s one of the largest Pakistani communities outside of Pakistan. Everyone knows if you want Pakistani food, Pakistani music, Pakistani clothes, you come to Coney Island Avenue.”
De Blasio also noted in his speech that “there was a man we associate with this event and this community who is no longer with us,” in reference to Asghar Choudhri, who died in February and was known as the mayor of Brooklyn’s Little Pakistan. He was 85.
Many in the crowd could be seen snapping photos and taking video of de Blasio, noting the importance of the mayor’s appearance at the event, which was also attended by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, city Public Advocate Letitia James, and Councilman Mathieu Eugene, among others. De Blasio also attended the India Day parade in Manhattan. Both the Pakistani and Indian communities celebrate in mid-August their independence from Great Britain in 1947.
Coney Island Avenue, from Avenue H to Newkirk, was lined with booths boasting everything from colorful clothes and scarves to food from the area’s restaurants and all kinds of Mela memorabilia.
Performers on stage entertained the crowd for hours, and the roster included such names as Malkoo, Nooran Lal, Shafaq Ali, Rahim Shah, and more.
Muslims Giving Back held a successful blood drive during the event.
The FDNY showed Mela-goers how to perform CPR.
Many thanks to neighbor Donald Loggins, who snapped this photo.