New York’s Dapper Don Last Saw Fireworks Display He Made Famous 30 Years Ago

July 6, 2020 – Legendary New York mafia boss John Gotti made his final appearance at his annual July 4th fireworks extravaganza 30 years ago this week, as he enjoyed his last summer freedom in 1990. Gotti, who rocketed to worldwide fame and pop-culture relevance the likes of which hadn’t been seen from the gangland community since Al Capone, was indicted in December of that year and never saw the free world again.

Starting in the early 1970s, Gotti began hosting a big neighborhood fireworks show outside his Ozone Park, Queens headquarters, the Bergin Fish & Hunt Club on 101st Avenue every Fourth of July night. The fact that the borough had a fireworks ban didn’t deter the Gotti crew from the giving Ozone Park residents a show of appreciation some at the time compared to Capone doling out Turkeys for holidays in Prohibition-era Chicago.

Gotti lieutenants raked in major cash peddling illegal and stolen fireworks, according to his FBI file. The operation was based out of a rural New Jersey barn.

The feds arrested Gotti at his Manhattan hangout, the Ravenite Social Club in Little Italy on December 11, 1990 and hit with a massive RICO case that drew headlines on both sides of the Atlantic. The judge denied him bail and he was off the streets for good.

That didn’t stop his signature fireworks display in Ozone Park from lasting almost another decade. The New York Mayor’s Office shut down the Gotti crew’s annual July 4th fireworks show in 1997, resulting in scuffles between wiseguys and cops in the Queens neighborhood.

Gotti grabbed power in the Gambino crime family courtesy of a Christmas time coup in 1985 when he orchestrated the assassination of his predecessor Paul Castellano, an out-of-touch Godfather isolated from his troops in his Todt Hill estate in Staten Island.

Dubbed the Dapper Don and the Teflon Don, for his chic, high-fashion threads and reputation for beating cases thrown at him by law enforcement, the charges finally stuck at a 1992 trial and Gotti was convicted of murder and racketeering and sentenced to life in prison. He died of cancer behind bars in 2002.

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