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Whitestone Bravest honored with street name

Friends, family and neighbors of Thomas Anthony Casoria poured out onto a sunny Whitestone street Saturday afternoon to see the road dedicated in honor of the lost firefighter.

“It’s the best day of the year so far, and I think Tommy is looking down on us and smiling,” said his brother and fellow firefighter, Carlo Casoria, Jr.

A native of Whitestone, Thomas Casoria was one of the 343 New York City firefighters killed in the destruction of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Thomas Casoria was known to have a friendly disposition, his relatives said, and the crowd which gathered at the corner off of 22nd Avenue, the street on which Thomas Casoria grew up, was an indication of his popularity. Dozens of neighbors, firefighters from several companies and many relatives crowded the busy intersection for the ceremony.

“This is a beautiful turnout,” said a smiling Teresa Lanzisero, Thomas Casoria’s fiancée and a resident of College Point. The two had set their wedding date for Oct. 13, 2001.

Thomas Casoria graduated from Holy Cross High School in 1990 and passed the firefighter’s exam two years later. He waited six years to be placed into the department, working instead as a carpenter’s apprentice.

In his four years in the department, Casoria served with companies in Long Island City, Bensonhurst and Yorkville.

In Saturday’s ceremony, a sign reading “Thomas A. Casoria Way” was unveiled on a street pole at the corner of 22nd Avenue and 150th Street.

“We’re all elated that this is finally happening,” said Carlo Casoria Sr., the firefighter’s father.

In a short speech to the crowd, Carlo Casoria, Sr. said his son was known as the mayor of the block.

“It seemed like he knew everyone, and they all knew and loved him,” he said.

Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who pushed for the renaming, spoke of the soldiers thousands of miles away in Iraq who are “defending our liberty.”

“The troops are fighting on behalf of democracy,” he said. “And on Sept. 11, Thomas Anthony Casoria fought his own battle for democracy.”

Before the ceremony, Carlo Casoria, Jr. remembered growing up with his younger brother on 22nd Avenue, the road on which their mother still lives.

“We played baseball on the street right here,” he said. “We worked in the supermarket down the block.”

Carlo Casoria Jr., said he had managed to put the pain behind him, saying he was proud of his brother’s honor.

“Every time we go to Mom’s house we’ll see the sign,” he said. “He’s always with us, anyway.”

Lanzisero said it still hurt to think of her lost fiancé.

“There will be pain everyday for the rest of my life,” she said.

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

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