A light in the darkness

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Brightening a dark day: A firefighter lights a candle near the 9-11 memorial wall in Bill Brown Park.
Flying flag: Sardor Kamoliddinov flaps his flag in front a 9-11 memorial.
Doggone heroes: Officer Robert McArdle and Detective Chris Bonomo stand with K9 officers Clancy and Nash.
Stars and stripes: Alisa Chernyavsky holds a candle in one hand and a flag in the other.
Red, white, and blue: Officer Chris Mullen from the 61st Precinct spreads the light by keeping the candles going.

Sheepshead Bay residents did their best to make a dark day a little brighter.

Locals lit candles on the 13th anniversary of 9-11 for the victims of the terrorist attacks at the annual memorial held that evening at Bill Brown Playground in Sheepshead Bay. Police officers, firefighters, emergency medical services, and community members honored the victims with touching tributes.

One participant said that Sheepshead Bay’s annual remembrance stands out for its strong sense of community.

“I’ve gone to other memorials — that one seems very connected there,” said Joann Rivezzo who lives in Mill Basin. “You felt a connection with the whole group.”

Directly following the attacks in 2001, monthly memorials were held at the playground. The handball courts bear a mural for the victims — crosses, FDNY emblems, flags, hearts, and the Star of David are squeezed between the victims’ names.

The night was bittersweet for one local who lost one uncle in the World Trade Center collapes and another later from health problems related to his recovery work at Ground Zero.

“It definitely touches home,” said Maryann Mallon, who attended the event with her three-year-old daughter, Mia. “We’ve gone every year since 9-11.”

Though her daughter is too young to understand the tragedy, Mallon said it is important for her to learn about what the day meant to the nation — and her family.

“She doesn’t fully understand because she’s so young, but it’s good for her to learn,” said Mallon. “It is good that she knows a little bit about her history.”

Even though more than a decade has passed, one resident said that at the memorial, the emotions of that terrible day were still palpable.

“It was very emotional,” said Nikki SanFilippo, who attends the memorial every year. “Every year — no matter how many years — you’re still going to feel the same.”

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow her
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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