Tonawanda News

Columns

August 20, 2009

ADAMCZYK: Something incredible just happened

I’m wondering what Pete Rizzo will do for his next act.

This is the guy who, over several years, co-chaired a committee with Supervisor Dan Crangle that got the Town of Tonawanda Veterans Memorial built, and successfully navigated a thicket of politics and bureaucracy and a recession and budget issues, and added follow-through to an abundance of good intentions. The Memorial was designed and the Kenney Field jet was rehabilitated by professionals who volunteered their expertise and labor. Grants and donations paid for much of the material and construction. Government agencies, particularly the Town’s Youth Parks and Recreation Department, were persuaded to help make this project extraordinary. They succeeded.

Then there was the matter of the dedication ceremony, which occurred earlier this week under blue skies and with enough wind to lift every flag on the grounds. Speeches, an orchestra, ceremonial color guards and unveiling of a sculpture, and the presence of General Colin Powell and the Patriot Guard Riders (the national organization of motorcyclists who present themselves as an honor guard, on this day surrounding the Memorial and silently holding flags). Ideas are a dime a dozen in this world, even good ones, but they require an organizer like Pete Rizzo to keep the ball rolling, to make certain every detail is attended.

Did I mention he began his involvement in this endeavor when he was 19 years old?

He and his Steering Committee pulled off something incredible, permanent and a credit to the Town of Tonawanda, and the dedication ceremony was equally remarkable (for point of full disclosure, he graciously quoted a column of mine in his welcoming speech, but I had only met him for the first time about thirty minutes prior). 600 souvenir programs were printed for the occasion; he was later informed to expect a crowd of about 1,500. Perhaps twice that number was in attendance on Tuesday afternoon.

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