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9/11 Memorial Ceremony and Westbury Street Fair

Events Displayed True Sense of Community

On Sept. 11 and 12, the Westbury Business Improvement District sponsored the annual Post Avenue Street Fair, an event that was well attended, entertaining and successful.

This year, the street fair commenced in a very significant and meaningful manner. The Village of Westbury commemorated the ninth anniversary of 9/11 with an interfaith Memorial Ceremony at the Village Piazza. It was a beautiful and solemn event.

The ceremony began with opening words of wisdom from Mayor Peter Cavallaro: “This morning, we stand here in unity with the families that lost loved ones … with this ceremony, we give a tangible expression that all people of goodwill and faith share a common bond of decency and values.” He asked that everyone in the crowd join hands for the Pledge of Allegiance “to express the unity we have as Americans no matter our creed, faith or heritage.”

Mayor Cavallaro then turned the ceremony over to Westbury Water-Fire District Commissioner Vincent Abbatiello, who hosted the remainder of the service. Abbatiello first called for the presentation of the memorial wreath. As members of the Westbury Fire Department Color Guard and the Westbury High School ROTC carried the wreath through the Piazza, Mineola bagpiper Dennis Clark sent the melody of Amazing Grace floating gently over the crowd.

After the wreath was tenderly placed in front of the Piazza’s fountain, Past Village of Westbury Mayor Ernest Strada read the names of the nine Westbury residents lost on that day: David G. Arce, Richard A. Arownow, Michael Boyle, Richard G. Bruehert, Thomas P. DeAngelis, David J. Fontana, Wade B. Green, Ann McGovern, and his son, Thomas Strada. He also shared the story of the spruce tree from his home that now stands so proudly in the Piazza: “It represents the life and the health that [my son] lost, but every time we look at it, it’s our son always with us, and always with all of you.”

The ceremony continued with speeches from clergy members of local congregations, who offered prayers and words of solace. Father Ralph Sommer from St. Brigid’s Church asked that our community “continue to be a comforting presence” for those who suffered and invited members of the audience to remember loved ones by calling out the names of family and friends whose lives were taken nine years ago.

Father Thomas Arnao from Our Lady of Hope Church told a moving story of a young man lost on that day who was a personal hero to his family in their time of need. Father Arnao remembered this young man with a quote from author H. Jackson Brown Jr.: “Live in such a way that when people think of you, they think of heroism.”

Rabbi Stephen Dressner from Franklin Square Jewish Center (whose prayer was read by Trustee Steven Corte) and Father Jack Custer from St. Andrew the Apostle Byzantine Church also reflected on the spirit of heroism and courage that prevailed on that day. Rabbi Dressner thanked the “many courageous Americans who came to the forefront” on 9/11, and Father Custer prayed, “in our day and in all days, [that] other men and women [would be raised up] who will be so generous and so brave.”

 Reverend Jeffrey Krantz from the Church of the Advent wanted audience members to especially remember the sense of unity felt on the days following 9/11.

In closing, Mayor Cavallaro returned to the podium to ask that the audience “go silently, enjoy the rest of the day, and reflect on the day as it goes on.” He commented after the ceremony, as essential as it was to remember and honor 9/11, it was also important that we “continue with our daily lives and activities.”

And so the street fair began. From Union Avenue to Cross Street, Post Avenue was a sea of bustling activity. Friends greeted one other, children squealed in excitement, dogs barked, merchants touted their wares and the delicious aromas of zeppoles, gyros and fresh pickles wafted through the air. A variety of mascots greeted children and spectators: Spider-Man made an appearance, as did a large, dancing tooth that was celebrating the opening of a new office at Westbury Family Dental Practice. A smiling “aviator” from the Cradle of Aviation Museum helped children “pilot” a replica of an airplane, while a life-sized model of a shark from Atlantis Marine World loomed over Chase Bank on Maple Avenue.

Political candidates running in upcoming elections shook hands with passersby and street musicians serenaded shoppers who dashed from vendor to vendor. Fairgoer Mallory Moebius was glad to see, despite the state of the economy, that the fair was filled with shoppers.

“I bought a great bag for twenty bucks,” said Moebius.

Rosalie Alfano and Susan Bluight enjoyed the wide array of merchandise available as they browsed a table of “treasures” from St. Brigid’s Attic, while regular Post Avenue merchants enjoyed a surge in business.

“There’s definitely a bigger crowd today,” said a Maria’s Bakery employee as she rushed to greet incoming customers.

Local government, community organizations and civic groups were also well represented. Village officials were available to chat with residents and discuss concerns. Members of the Historical Society of the Westbury’s shared early photographs of Westbury and encouraged onlookers to identify the landmarks, while representatives from the Republican Club handed out flags.

On the second day of the fair (which was not dampened by cloudy skies), the Westbury Fire Department gave an impressive demonstration of one of their fire trucks. They also distributed Junior Firefighter helmets to children (and anyone else who wanted one). Grinning little faces, some brightly painted and with smiles sticky from treats, peeked out from underneath the hats as they raced off to play on gigantic, inflatable rides.

“That’s cool that they have the kid’s rides, I’m glad to see that this year,” said Catherine Forino.