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NE boro residents remember Sept. 11 victims

Ground Zero was a place of mourning last week as the city gathered to mark the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but so were countless other spots in northeast Queens as hundreds of residents left their homes to pay tribute to the victims of the World Trade Center collapse.

Hours after the names of the 2,801 killed on Sept. 11 a year ago were read as a tribute at memorials at Ground Zero last week and even as Mayor Michael Bloomberg presided over a citywide ceremony in the evening, smaller anniversary tributes filled the streets of Bayside and Little Neck.

A crowd gathered at the intersection of Bell Boulevard and the Long Island Expressway in Bayside Hills to commemorate not only the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks but the two residents of Bayside Hills who died at the World Trade Center, civic leader Jerry Iannece said.

“This hallowed place will be known as World Trade Center mall,” said Iannece, president of the Bayside Hills Civic Association and chairman of CB 11 in Bayside. A garden was dedicated featuring two European Hornbeam trees on either side to represent the Twin Towers. The garden was donated by Keil Brothers florists in Bayside, and the trees are designed to grow tall and thin, Iannece said.

Bayside Hills residents George Merino and Al Niedermeyer were also remembered during the ceremony, which drew a number of elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills), state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), state Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Bayside) and City Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis).

Iannece told the 100 to 200 people who attended the garden mall was dedicated to “the incredible bravery displayed by our brave men and women in uniform. Today is a tribute to them — we owe it to them to stand here and remember what they did for us.”

At nearby All Saints Church in Bayside congregants came to the 40th Avenue church to note the significance of the day and remember the 25 to 30 victims from the neighborhood.

Rev. Kent Johnson told those gathered in the small house of worship stories of how relatives of the World Trade Center victims have spent the past year coping with grief.

“Each of us had our hearts broken a year ago on this day in so many ways,” Johnson said. He urged the audience to remember that “as big and as broken and as horrible as what we experienced has been, God’s love is greater.”

Civic leader and church member Frank Skala then read the list of names of Bayside residents who died in last year’s terror attacks, with some members of the audience calling out additional names at the end.

In Douglaston’s St. Anastasia Church, more than 300 people attended a community concert to mark the Sept. 11 anniversary.

Several neighborhood houses of worship, including the Zion Episcopal Church and the Community Churches of Little Neck and Douglaston, joined with St. Anastasia’s and the Pride of Judea Community Services to organize the concert.

Featuring St. Anastasia cantor Brian Donohue and several other classical singers, the large audience was treated to a wide-ranging concert that included religious music and patriotic tunes such as “God Bless America” and “The House I Live In.” The musicians included Donohue, his son Christopher, pianist Kenneth Blue, and singers Nancy Ferretti-Clark, Richard Clark, Brana Williams and Robert Williams.

The musicians said they were glad to provide an uplifting end to the evening through song.

“You see all these people working at Ground Zero and we know we can’t do that,” Ferretti-Clark said. “This is what we do.”

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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