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Two new members were inducted into New Rochelle's "Walk of Fame" in a ceremony at Ruby Dee Park at Library Green on Friday, June 11: baseball great Mariano Rivera and former NFL player Fritz Pollard. City officials were joined by friends of the honorees and a cheering public.
The New Rochelle Walk of Fame, installed in 2011 in Library Green, is a unique tribute to nationally notable individuals with distinct ties to New Rochelle. Each inductee is memorialized with a 20" x 14" full color historical interpretive sign telling their story in words and graphics. The Walk is a micro history of America in a nutshell as reflected in the lives of New Rochelle's famous sons and daughters, representing the arts, business, politics, education, the media, entertainment, and sports. The signs are strategically located in the gardens lining the Library Green pathway and were created and funded by former resident and historian Roderick Kennedy Jr., working in partnership with the City of New Rochelle and the Downtown Business Improvement District. A list of inductees follows below.
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In his remarks, Rod Kennedy said that the Walk of Fame had been a pleasure to create, attributing the inspiration to a project he completed in 2009 for Westchester County's Glen Island Park: researching New Rochelle history for six interpretive signs located there. "I was amazed to see the famous people who were born or lived in New Rochelle, so I thought it would be important to create a Walk of Fame to honor these distinguished men and women," he said. "Instead of honoring the honorees with the usual ubiquitous plaque or sidewalk inscription, they are brought to life with words and pictures on colorful freestanding signs located in a park setting."
Mayor Bramson said, "It is an honor to induct Mariano Rivera and Fritz Pollard into the New Rochelle Walk of Fame. Their lives and accomplishments are sources of inspiration to people throughout our community and beyond, and we are enormously proud of New Rochelle's connection to these giants." Mayor Bramson also read a statement from the Fritz Pollard Foundation expressing their gratitude to the City of New Rochelle.
"This plaque means a lot to me and my family," said Mariano Rivera. "As an immigrant from back home in Panama, I came here to play baseball, but I found a second home away from home. To me, New Rochelle is more than a place: it's a home…family…a people who never give up, a resilient people." Rivera also expressed his gratitude to Joe and Mickie Fosina, his "extended family". "The Lord extends families where you need families. Joe took me under his wing and brought me to New Rochelle and I fell in love."
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