Maspeth honors Squad 288, Hazmat 1 firefighters 21 years later

Memorial ceremony remembers those lost on 9/11

By Jessica Meditz

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The young nieces and grandchildren of deceased firefighter Dennis Carey of Hazmat 1. (Photo: Walter Karling)

In true “Maspeth is America” fashion, residents gathered on Grand Avenue to remember Sept. 11, 2001, 21 years later.

At a ceremony held by Maspeth Federal Savings at Maspeth Memorial Park, the community honored the firefighters of Squad 288/Hazmat 1 who perished in the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers.

Squad 288/Hazmat 1 had the single largest loss of firefighters of any FDNY firehouse.

Kenneth Rudzewick, emcee of the event, cited the importance of holding memorial ceremonies like this one every year, “We gather here in Maspeth and across America to mark the unfinished work of remembering. There will never be a time when this work is finished.”

“I’m sure you, as I do, remember what you were doing and how you received the dreadful news on 9/11. That day changed the lives of everyone in America,” he continued.

Like Rudzewick, other longtime guests took part in the event — including Msgr. Joseph Calise of St. Stan’s; Vincent Tomeo, retired high school teacher and poet; Bill and Liz Huisman, a husband and wife musical duo; Mike Aylward, who read the names of the fallen first responders; John Christ, who performed “Taps” and Kathleen Nealon, who sang the national anthem.

Kathleen Nealon and the St. Stan’s Players sing the National Anthem as two members of the audience salute. (Photos: Walter Karling)

“It’s an honor to sit here today in memory of all those who lost their lives on 9/11 as well as those who continue to die of 9/11-related illnesses,” Nealon said. “I keep them and their families in my prayers always. God bless them and God bless America.”

The memorial especially honored Maspeth residents who perished as a result of the 9/11 attacks.

Firefighters lay the wreath in honor of Squad 288/Hazmat 1.

Local elected officials joined the community in remembrance, including Assemblyman Brian Barnwell, State Senator Joseph Addabbo, Councilman Robert Holden and State Senator Michael Gianaris.

They discussed the importance of not only remembering and honoring the lives lost in the present, but also how to carry out their memory to future generations.

“For these memories to live on, for the sacrifices to be remembered, they have to be taught…I saw as the flags are being laid so many future generations here, and it’s on us to make sure they don’t forget what happened,” Gianaris said.

“It’s important to learn the lessons of those days, the lessons of sacrificing for freedom, the lessons of selflessness and of giving one’s life to save others,” he continued. “As time goes on, it will be on us to find people who didn’t experience it, who will continue to teach the lesson.”

Holden echoed his sentiment, and emphasized his wish to see the Maspeth firehouse recognized as a landmark.

He alongside the Juniper Park Civic Association have fought for this, however The Landmarks Preservation Commission turned down their request, because it has been less than 30 years — much to his dismay.

He also reminisced on the sense of solidarity among New Yorkers and Americans following the attack, and hopes to see it return.

“Remembering the days following 9/11, everybody was together, everybody was cheering on first responders. Everybody was thanking them. We were united; we were a true United States,” he said.

“We have to get that back again…in my lifetime, I’ve never seen us so divided. We probably haven’t been this divided since the Civil War,” he continued.” So we have an urgent responsibility as elected officials to unite our constituents on a common cause to keep us safe.”

Maspeth Federal Savings celebrates 75 Days of Giving

Lucky local wins Ford Mustang Mach-E

By Jessica Meditz

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Last Wednesday, Maspeth’s music lovers of all ages traveled back in time to a night of doo-wop classics and ‘60s hits.

The Crystals, The Happenings and Bobby Wilson graced the stage of Maspeth Federal Savings’ culmination of their summer concert series—as part of their 75 Days of Giving initiative.

With flashy lights and even pyrotechnics coming from the stage, concert-goers danced the night away and sang along to the nostalgic tunes.

The Crystals sported sparkly dresses, living up to their name. They opened up the concert with the well-known “Chapel of Love,” made famous by The Dixie Cups in 1964.

The Crystals. (Photo: Jessica Meditz)

Led by Brooklyn’s own Dolores “Dee Dee” Kenniebrew, an original member of the group, The Crystals went on to sing other classics such as “Rescue Me,” “Then He Kissed Me,” “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “He’s A Rebel.”

After The Crystals closed out with a soulful expression of “I’ll Be There” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” the Maspeth Federal Savings team took the stage to announce the winner of a Ford Mustang Mach-E, the grand prize of their 75 Days of Giving celebration.

“Maspeth Federal has been here for 75 years serving these great communities, and we’re so proud to announce that we’ve raised over $20,000 for charities during our 75 Days of Giving,” said Thomas Rudzewick, president and CEO of Maspeth Federal Savings.

“We’re very proud to announce that there were over 3,000 entrants to win this beautiful Ford Mustang Mach-E,” he continued. “I’m so thankful for this great event and 75 years of serving the community.”

After an intern from Maspeth Federal spun the canister with the entries, Rudzewick announced the winner as Martyna Kowalski, a nurse in the area and a customer of the bank.

The Happenings, led by Bobby Miranda, kept the excitement going with their matching red jackets and enthusiasm.

The Happenings, led by Bobby Miranda.

They serenaded the crowd with hits such as “See You in September,” “I Got Rhythm” and “Go Away Little Girl,” and closed out their performance in true “Maspeth is America” fashion with “God Bless the USA.”

Bobby Wilson, the son of famed soul singer, Jackie Wilson, closed out the show performing hits of his father’s, as well as other R&B and doo-wop classics.

As part of their 75 Days of Giving, Maspeth Federal Savings put on other concerts throughout the series: Jimmy Sturr and His Orchestra, a polka music band; The Chiclettes, performing rock & roll, motown and disco hits; and Louis Del Prete, a singer, dancer and musician performing music throughout the decades.

Additionally, the bank awarded other prizes throughout the 75 days, including a Roku, Apple Watch, iPad and Mets tickets.

Bobby Wilson. (Photo: Jessica Meditz)

They also initiated a sense of community through giving out gift cards to local businesses, such as Aigner Chocolates, Valentino Food Market, O’Neill’s Restaurant and Eddie’s Sweet Shop.

“The 75 Days of Giving was a tremendous success,” said Jill Nicolois, assistant vice president and community affairs director at Maspeth Federal Savings.

“To say [the winner of the car] is excited would be an understatement. We are so thrilled for her,” she continued. “It was great to see people excited to come in and anticipate things, and to serve the neighborhood.”

Maspeth Federal Savings continues to host community events, including the upcoming Movie Nights featuring “Luca” and “Encanto” on Aug. 19 and 26, respectively, the annual 9/11 Memorial Ceremony on Sept. 10 and the Smile On Maspeth Carnival on Sept. 18.

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