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Mourners fill Juniper Valley Park for Sept. 11 rites

Although the Sept. 11 attacks are almost a decade old, the close-knit residents of Middle Village, Ridgewood and Glendale say the tragic event is still fresh in their memories.

More than a hundred mourners of all ages gathered at Juniper Valley Park at dusk Saturday not only to remember the dozens of community members lost on that day, but also to look forward to a new beginning. The annual candlelight vigil that was started the night of the terrorist assault on New York City has continued to draw people over the years, according to the event’s organizers.

April Fischer, whose mother Angela is on the planning committee for the event and has a brother who is in the U.S. Air Force, said there were thoughts of not holding the vigil this year and instead having it once every five or 10 years, but the neighborhood wanted to show its support.

“We still get a lot of people even after all of this time,” she said.

Glendale resident Diana Witkowski said she has always looked forward to the event because it draws her friends and family together. Witkowski said the Sept. 11 anniversary became more poignant to her when she was in college upstate and could not attend.

“People live with it every day,” the 23-year-old said.

The event included a reading of a list of several dozen names of residents who died that day. Many of them were first responders, but there were few, like Patricia Cinaroli Massaro, who were civilians and in the twin towers when they collapsed.

Janis Lynch, 31, who had been friendly with Massaro since high school, came up from Florida to be at the memorial and said the ceremony helps her heal from her loss.

“It’s just a great time for us to reflect and remember her spirit,” she said while clutching a large framed photo of Massaro.

In-between the poems recited and songs sung during the ceremony, the mourners turned west to face the tribute of lights beaming from Ground Zero. By this time next year, the event could have a memorial closer to home.

Frank DiBiasi, a member of the event’s planning committee, showed a mock rendering of a 40-by-60-inch bronze memorial it plans to install at the park by next year’s vigil. DiBiasi said it will cost $16,000 to create and the committee will be appealing to the community to donate funds.

“We owe it to those who perished,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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