Sunday, November 29, 2015

Albanian flags adorn Hylan Boulevard to mark country's independence day

Dozens of Albanian and American flags are being hung from utility poles along Hylan Boulevard today in celebration of Albanian Independence day. (Staten Island Advance/Vincent Barone)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- If you noticed dozens of red flags adorned with a black two-headed eagle hanging alongside American flags on Hylan Boulevard Saturday and wondered their significance, you are not alone. The flags are being flown from utility poles along the major Island thoroughfare in celebration of Albanian Independence Day, held annually on Nov. 28.
Albanians living on Staten Island gathered Friday night at the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center in Tompkinsville to celebrate the holiday, which commemorates Albania's revolt from the Ottoman Empire in 1912.
"When we celebrate, there is usually a lot of singing and dancing to Albanian songs," said Dr. Tahir Kukaj, the vice president of the cultural center. "At the center on Friday, because it's a mosque, we hosted lectures on the history of that day, Nov. 28, 1912. We also talked about and celebrated leaders from all religions – priests, imams."
Dr. Kukaj is thankful that the city lets Albanian Americans hang the Albanian flag on Hylan each year. He said that Hylan Boulevard is chosen for the flag placement because there is a sizeable number of Albanians that live along the boulevard.
"We have a large Albanian community on Staten Island...and we're happy to be part of this great city where we can practice our full rights side by side," he said. "The holiday is right after Thanksgiving and we cherish and celebrate both glorious holidays."

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