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2011: The Year in R­­eview in Massapequa

Village remembers fallen heroes of 9/11; Winning Seasons for high school sports teams

In 2011, the painful memory of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center was brought home again as the Massapequa remembered its local victims. The anniversary was marked by candlelight vigils, plus the unveiling of a 9/11 Memorial at Massapequa High School, one that was constructed from steel remains of the World Trade Center itself. The Plainedge School District also remembered one of its own as it unveiled a steel girder of the WTC, one constructed in honor of Kathy Mazza, the North Massapequa native and Farmingdale resident who was the first female from the Port Authority office to perish in the line of duty on 9/11.

The Massapequa area men who lost their lives on 9/11 are: George Cain, James J. Carson, Jr., Peter J. Ganci, Jr., Michael Healey, Thomas Haskell, Jr., Ronald Hoerner, Michael Iken, Anthony Jovic, Lester V. Marino, Henry Miller, Jr., Michael O’Brien, Michael Pascuma, Timothy Alan Roy, Sr., Frank G. Schott, Christopher R. Sullivan, David Wiswall, and Andrew Zucker. On July 15, 2011, Massapequa resident and FDNY member Steven C. Mosiello died of esophageal cancer. On Sept. 11, 2001, Mosiello was at the World Trade Center, serving as an aide to fellow FDNY member, Peter J. Ganci, Jr.

Ganci, George Cain, Michael Healey, Thomas Haskell, Jr., Anthony Jovic, and Christopher R. Sullivan were all members of the New York City Fire Department. Timothy Alan Roy, Sr. was a sergeant for the NYPD’s bus squad. Ganci was chief of department, the highest-ranking uniformed fire officer in the FDNY, a position he had served in since 1998. After his death, the Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan, a nation in Central Asia, was renamed as Ganci Air Base. In 2003, the post office on Main Street in Farmingdale was named for him. Ganci was survived by his wife and three children. His two sons both are members of the FDNY. One of them, Chris, wrote and published Chief: The Life of Peter J. Ganci, A New York City Firefighter, a well-received book that was written for young readers.

The year saw added tragedy to the area as residents remembered two Nassau County police officers that lost their lives in the line of duty. Police Officer Michael Califano of Seaford died in an accident on a Long Island Expressway Service Road. A month later, Police Officer Geoffrey J. Breitkopf, a resident of Selden, lost his life in a friendly fire incident that took place at the scene of a robbery call in Massapequa.

In comparison, the big news on the nature front—-the visit by Hurricane Irene to the New York area in August—-seemed mild. Hard work by village workers and vigilance by local officials helped to keep loss of power down to a weekend in the last week of August.

Championship Seasons At Massapequa High School

On the sports front, the blistering July weather did not stop the annual Baldinger football clinic from being another success. Former NFL stars and Massapequa natives Gary and Brian Baldinger taught the basics of the games to local youngsters, while also highlighting such qualities as teamwork and sportsmanship.

As usual, Massapequa High School had one championship team after another in 2011. In April, the boys hockey team won both the Nassau County and Town of Oyster Bay titles. In November, the boys volleyball team won its first ever Long Island title. The girls volleyball team, long a power in Long Island sports, won a Nassau County Class AA title, while the girls field hockey squad won its third straight Nassau County Class A title.

The volleyball and field hockey squads weren’t the only champion teams. This year, the boys golf, girls tennis, and girls cross country teams also won conference titles. In addition, the cross-country team joined the boys volleyball, girls volleyball, and girls field hockey in winning Nassau County titles.

“We had a fabulous fall season,” said Massapequa School District Athletic Director John Piropato, pointing to the champion squads. Piropato also praised the charity work of the student athletes, noting participation in the Dig Pink event, cancer and autism walks, and work on a 9-11 memorial. “We’re very proud of our student athletes, both on and off the field.”

In local news, the Friends of Massapequa Preserve held its 11th anniversary dinner to report on progress at that vast plot of land. Friends’ President Richard Schary said that a massive pond restoration project is nearly complete. He also praised local Boy Scouts for doing extensive volunteer work on the preserve and added that bike overcrowding remains a pressing concern.

Earlier, in April, Edward A. Salina, Jr., formerly of the Roslyn School District, was named Superintendent of the Plainedge School District.

Mother, Father, and Son: Having the Same Birthday

While the year was marked by tragedy, there were also pleasant human interest stories. On the late evening of July 19, young Mason Parker was born. The significance? Both of his parents, Jacquie and Paul Parker were also born on July 19. So mother, father, and son all share the same birthday. That’s almost as good as having triplets.

On the other end of the life cycle, Massapequa Park resident Vera Toole celebrated her 100th birthday in October, marking the big day with a reception at Brady Park Senior Center.

In April, Massapequa resident Anthony Amato completed another tour of duty for Mercy Ships, serving on the Pediatric Ward for patients in West African nations.

On the fiction front, longtime Massapequa resident Franca Lippi Mills published an autobiographical novel, Strangers and Memories, a story of a young Italian woman who survives World War II and marries an American serviceman. Meanwhile, Frank Nappi had the thrill of seeing his novel, The Legend of Mickey Tussler being transformed into a successful made-for-television movie, A Mile In His Shoes, one that starred Dean Cain and Luke Schroder and aired in late September on the Gospel Music Channel.