As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a smaller than usual annual National Pearl Harbor Day Remembrance program took place on the American Veterans Memorial Pier in Bay Ridge. The brief ceremony included a narrative, invocation, the playing of “Taps” and the tossing of memorial wreaths into the waters of New York Bay.
Jack Sanford, past Kings County VFW and VFW District One commander, conducted the program. The participants honored the memory of the more than 2,335 members of the Armed Forces and 68 civilians who perished and the nearly 2,000 who were wounded on Dec. 7, 1941.
Sanford, a US Navy veteran, read the invocation, after which US Army veteran Sgt. Steven Placanica played “Taps” and five wreaths were placed into the waters alongside the pier.
Also taking part in the event were members of the Ladies Auxiliary of the VFW.
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On Monday, Dec. 16, you can hoist a toast to salute the 167th birthday of Bay Ridge. It was on Dec. 16, 1853 that a prominent group of citizens and landowners met at the District No. 2 Yellow Hook schoolhouse – on the east side of Third Avenue near present-day 73rd Street – to change the name of their then-rural village. They had earlier seen other areas of Kings County plagued by yellow fever and didn’t want to be stigmatized with a name like Yellow Hook.
The session at the schoolhouse was chaired by New Utrecht Town Supervisor Tunis Bergen. James Weir proposed a resolution changing the name of the village to Bay Ridge, which was unanimously adopted. Ironically, in later years, Bay Ridge and the neighboring village of Fort Hamilton did succumb to the yellow fever epidemic.
I had the distinct honor of chairing the Bay Ridge Sesquicentennial Committee along with George Fontas. Lasting monumentsfrom that 150th anniversary celebration include a bronze plaque at the Bay Ridge Public Library on Ridge Boulevard and 73rd Street; a large mural on the 92nd Street wall of the Food Town Supermarket; a time capsule; and the formal designation by then-Borough President Marty Markowitz of the hydrangea as Bay Ridge’s official flower.
The sesquicentennial mural was designed by local freelance artist Tom Tracy and painted by students from Fort Hamilton High School, guided by their art teacher, Bay Ridgeite Ellen Cokinese.