Archive for the tag ‘memorials’

With the backdrop of Rockin’ Ray Fiore’s heartfelt mural on the handball courts of Bill Brown Park (Avenue X and Bedford Avenue), more than one hundred mourners, neighbors, firefighters from Ladder Co. 169, 61st Precinct officers and local EMS responders gathered last night to remember the lives lost on September 11, 2001.

But it wasn’t just a tribute to those who passed and the heroes of the day, it was a passing of the torch from the eclectic neighborhood character who maintains the memorial mural to his son, who is taking on the responsibility after his father’s move out of Brooklyn.

Fiore moved to Michigan recently, removing from the neighborhood his colorful hand-painted car and, perhaps, one of Brooklyn’s most ebullient sons. His son, Ray Fiore, Jr., took his place, and last night marked the 31-year-old’s first visit to the mural on September 11.

He brought fire engine red and royal blue paint to touch up any chips in the names, as his father does during the event and throughout the year, and he was asked to add two more names to the mural. He spent much of the memorial ceremony up close to the mural, working on it diligently throughout the night, but said he really felt the significance of it when he was able to take a step back and admire it.

Ray Jr. led the mourners in saying the Our Father, like his father had done in years past. A note was read from “Rockin’ Ray” that sent his love in his absence, and the song “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” was played in honor of him.

Read more about the event and view photos and video.

Well known are the stories of heroism on the part of firefighters, police officers and other first responders on September 11, 2001. But there’s yet another story of heroism that has largely gone under the radar, involving ordinary civilians who put their life and property in harm’s way to save others.

Boatlift chronicles the story of the largest sea evacuation in history, when a fleet of civilian and Coast Guard vessels voluntarily navigated to the seawall of lower Manhattan, and helped evacuate nearly 500,000 people in less than nine hours.

Sheepshead Bay’s own Vincent Ardolino, captain of the Amberjack V, was one of those who played a pivotal role on that September morning 11 years ago. Seeing the attack on the news, he boarded his vessel and set out to ferry evacuees between the boroughs – long before the Coast Guard put out a call to all available ships for help in the evacuation. Ardolino is heavily featured in the film, as are captains from around Brooklyn and New York City, as well as New Jersey.

Boatlift was executive produced by Stephen Flynn and Sean Burke, and co-directed by Rick Velleu. It premiered on September 8 at the “9/11 Tenth Anniversary Summit: Remembrance/Renewal/Resilience” in Washington. The summit kicked off a national movement to foster community and national resilience in the face of future crises. See to learn more.


Mourners gather during last year’s Brooklyn / Bedford Park 9/11 Memorial, the 10-year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Photo by Erica Sherman

Tomorrow, our area will hold a number of memorial services in honor of all the men and women whose lives were lost during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

As we remember the tragic events that befell our nation 11 years ago, try to make some time to visit one, or all, of these heartfelt community-organized memorials. It is a meaningful way to come together as a community, to mourn, to honor, to stand as a nation truly united, and to also let your neighbors — many of whom lost mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, family and friends, on that awful day — know that their loved ones will not forgotten.

  • The Brooklyn/Bedford Park 9/11 Memorial Committee’s 9/11 Memorial And Candle Vigil: Remember the 11th anniversary of one of the most tragic days in our nation’s history. Bring a candle, bring a chair, bring your memories, thoughts and prayers. Rain or shine. Bill Brown Park, Avenue X and Bedford Avenue, 6:30 p.m.
  • Gerritsen Beach 9/11 Ceremonies: announces that the area around the Larry Veling Memorial Field has been spruced up in time for Gerritsen Beach’s annual 9/11 memorial ceremony. Larry Veling Field Gerritsen Avenue between Cyrus Avenue and Seba Avenue, 7:00 p.m.
  • State Senator Martin J. Golden Annual September 11th Memorial in Marine Park: State Senator Martin Golden will host a Marine Park memorial — expected to attract a number of residents from the community who will gather to mourn and remember the tragic events — that will feature a program of inspirational speeches, patriotic song selections, and a candle-lighting vigil. Family members of those lost at the World Trade Center will also be in attendance. Marine Park, Fillmore Avenue and Marine Parkway, 6:00 p.m.

UPDATE (9/11/12 @ 9:00 a.m.): Ari Kagan notes in the comments that there’s one more event we were unaware of:

One more ceremony is going to take place tomorrow at 4 p.m. in Asser Levy Park (9/11 Memorial Square). It is organized by September 11 Family Group (President – Larry Savinkin).

Thanks, Ari!

Photo by Justin Santoro

For the fifth year in a row, dozens gathered in Homecrest Playground (Homecrest Avenue and Williams Court) to play softball in remembrance of Anthony Senisi Jr., a 44-year old father of two who was tragically murdered six years ago.

Senisi was on his way home from a grocery store on Brighton 6th Street when he was stabbed in the back. He collapsed in front of his house in view of his son, and died in his father’s arms.

Making the crime even more senseless, authorities believed Senisi was mistaken for someone else while buying milk for his Sunday morning ritual of coffee with his daughter.

Read how the softball game came about, and view more photos.

Approximately 200 people gathered together at the Holocaust Memorial Park on Emmons Avenue and Shore Boulevard in honor of the 27th Annual Holocaust Memorial Gathering this past Sunday, honoring and preserving the memories of those who perished in the Holocaust.

The audience was filled with people of all ages. There were leaders and members of Russian Holocaust Survivors group, and the Veterans group. According to Inna Stavitsky, president of the Holocaust Memorial Committee, many young individuals were present as well, as the theme of the afternoon was “The Generations After: Passing the Torch.”

Various elected officials attended, including Senators David Storobin and Diane Savino, as well as Assemblymembers Steven Cymbrowitz, Helene Weinstein and Alec Brook-Krasny.

A candle lighting ceremony and musical performances were held in memory of the millions of people murdered by the Nazis.

The event also featured several speakers, among them, Joseph Spitz, the Israeli Consulate Director of Academic Affairs, Lev Katzin, the publisher of two Russian language newspapers, and David Widawsky, the founder of the March of the Living.

Check out the photo gallery from Sheepshead Bites’ photographer Joe Comperiati.

Holocaust Memorial Park. Photo by Boris Shekhman

Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.

Blessed is the flame that burns in the secret fastness of the heart.

Blessed is the heart with strength to stop its beating for honor’s sake.

Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.

– Hannah Szenes [source]

Here in Sheepshead Bay, we Never Forget.

The Holocaust Memorial Committee — the organization charged with overseeing Holocaust Memorial Park, New York’s only outdoor tribute to the souls who perished in the Holocaust — will be holding its 27th Annual Holocaust Memorial Gathering this Sunday, June 24, 12:00 p.m. at the park, located on Emmons Avenue and Shore Boulevard.

This year’s theme is “The Generations After: Passing The Torch.” The organization will pay tribute to Shirley Heller, former president of the Holocaust Memorial Committee, and will feature Israeli Consulate Director of Academic Affairs Joseph Spitz and March of the Living’s David Widawsky, as well as musical performances, a candle-lighting ceremony and solemn cantorial selections.

In light of the many anti-Semitic hate crimes once again plaguing our community, everyone should try to attend and, in doing so, take a stand against any manner of hatred and injustice toward our fellow human beings.

For more info, call (718) 743-3636, go to or email [email protected].

A makeshift memorial at the murder scene of Yelena Bulchenko and her mother.

One year ago today, February 11, Sheepshead Bay residents woke up to the news that a brutal murder had happened on Emmons Avenue and East 27th Street. All that was known was a 54-year-old man was stabbed to death, and a 20-something-year-old man was seen driving away from the location.

We now know that this was just the first incident in the 28-hour murderous rampage of Maksim Gelman.

Gelman dodged police for more than 11 hours after that first killing. In that time, he went to the home of Yelena Bulchenko, who he had supposedly become obsessed with, killed her mother and set up camp until Yelena came home. He then stabbed her to death, bringing the death count to three.

He led police on a 17-hour chase, resurfacing occasionally to stab, maim and carjack anyone who got in his way. It wasn’t until the next morning – 28 hours after the first murder – that he was captured in Manhattan. We spent the day cobbling together news sources, roaming the streets, talking to police officers and documenting the NYPD’s Level 1 Mobilization that brought a seemingly endless parade of police cars from across the city into our neighborhood.

Despite indicating insanity with rambling conspiracy-laden statements, Gelman pleaded guilty in November to murdering four people and wounding four others. His story, hopefully, came to an end less than a month ago, when he was sentenced to 200 years in prison.

We know that many of our readers knew Gelman or his victims. We attempted to reach out to some for a feature to mark the occasion, exploring how his violent, twisted saga had transformed this last, tragic year for them. Each and every one declined to be quoted, a decision we understand and respect.

We offer this space to those and others in the community to reflect on the bloodshed, remember those they’ve lost, and reveal how this violence has transformed their lives.

Today, one year after Maksim Gelman condemned himself through his sick deeds, the thoughts and prayers of those of us at Sheepshead Bites remain with Gelman’s victims and their families.

More than 100 members braved Sunday’s winter chill to celebrate the final event of St. Mark Catholic Church parish’s 150th anniversary with an outdoor dedication of a newly-installed prayer garden.

The Marian Prayer and Memorial Garden, located on Jerome Avenue between Ocean Avenue and East 19th Street, replaces a decades old magnolia tree adjacent to the church. With a hand-etched granite memorial depicting Mother Mary and a baby Jesus Christ in front of the iconic St. Mark steeple, as well as several smaller memorials, the garden provides congregants an outdoor place to reflect and pray.

“This is a special project … that really is the culmination of our anniversary year and marks the last official service of Father Grimaldi,” noted George Donnelly, the business manager for St. Mark.

After 12 years of service, Grimaldi will soon leave the community to serve as a vicor to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, where he’ll work closely with the bishop.

The 150th anniversary was celebrated throughout 2011 with historical walks, in-church exhibits and special events – as well as by a massive fundraising effort to make major restorations throughout the church.

Donnelly said that the unveiling of the monument not only capped the anniversary year, but also was the last important project to be completed with the $916,000 the church raised – a handsome sum that exceeded the congregation’s goal of $750,000.

With those funds, interior and exterior repairs were completed to the bell tower, and the scaffolding will soon be removed. It also allowed for sidewalk repairs around the institution and the renovation of several of the church entrances.

“Only with the help of many of our practitioners we were able to pull this off,” Donnelly said.

View photos of the memorial and the dedication service.

File:Vince Lombardi.pngUnless you’ve stooped to examine the understated brass plaque embedded in the sidewalk at the corner of East 17th Street and Jerome Avenue, you might never see a public acknowledgement of neighborhood pride for one of Sheepshead Bay’s most famed native sons. “IN MEMORY OF VINCE LOMBARDI: 1913-1970,” the plaque reads. “Dedicated by the Sheepshead Bay Chamber of Commerce, 1974.”

Denis Hamill of the Daily News thinks that this small memorial and the two sites in Bensonhurst named for Lombardi – a public school and a short stretch of 16th Avenue – are far short of a fitting tribute to “arguably the greatest NFL coach in history.”

Lombardi, who was born in Brooklyn in 1913 and raised at 2542 East 14th Street, served as assistant coach of New York Giants for four years, before going on to win five NFL championships – including the first two Superbowls – as head coach of the Green Bay Packers from 1959 to 1967.

“There should be a big, brawny, larger-than-life Vince Lombardi statue resting on a block of granite here in Sheepshead Bay,” Hamill wrote in The Daily News this past Saturday.

Citing Lombardi’s rise over anti-Italian discrimination and zero-tolerance for bigotry from his players – even before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – Hamill writes that he “embodied the Brooklyn ethic of triumph over adversity through tireless hard work.”

Hamill spoke to several community leaders about their memories of the famed coach, including Richard Stockley, the building manager at St. Mark’s Church where Lombadi served as an altar boy. “I remember Vince as a tough, gruff guy who loved to laugh, and a devout daily communicant. When he spoke, it was like the word of God in this neighborhood,” Stockley recalled.

George Pompilio, co-owner of Gothic Press, a print shop around the corner from Lombardi’s childhood home, had similarly warm memories. “That Lombardi came from the neighborhood made him our hero,” he said. “That he was Italian was a cherry on the cake.”

There is no word yet as to whether community groups are backing Hamill’s proposal, nor where the statue would be erected.

What do you think? Does Sheepshead Bay need a “big, brawny” Vince Lombardi statue?

Katie McNish

Rockin' Ray Fiore touches up the memorial wall during the event. (Photo by Erica Sherman)

The weather looked dreadful in the hours leading up to the Brooklyn / Bedford Park 9/11 Memorial yesterday evening, honoring the fallen friends and families of those who passed 10 years ago. But minutes before it kicked off, the gray skies parted, and sunlight lanced the cloud cover, bathing in dusk’s glow the 350 or so that gathered at Bill Brown Park.

That gave an extra jolt of confidence to the previously fretful organizers, who had scuddled about for four hours before the event’s start, hanging flags, setting candles and preparing equipment. And as the splash of sunlight heralded the event, organizers played their call-to-arms – Neil Diamond’s “Coming to America” interlaced with soundbytes of George W. Bush’s post-9/11 rhetoric.

The emotional cabaret began.

Keep reading and view a photo gallery.

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