Almost a year after the beloved and historic symbol of the city was flattened by a storm, Glen Cove's reconstructed Morgan Memorial Park Gazebo was rededicated Thursday.
"It's as good as the day it was built and better," Mayor Ralph Suozzi said before a ribbon-cutting that took place under bright holiday sunshine with a cool wind blowing off Hempstead Harbor and smoke rising from barbecues.
After the July 18 storm collapsed the roof onto the base, the city paid more than $81,000 for the repairs to the 81-year-old structure. Most of the original copper roof was saved and reused. Steel beams were added to make the structure stronger and LED lights installed to save on electric costs. All but a $10,000 deductible was covered by insurance, Suozzi said. But the city received a $4,000 donation from the Gold Coast Cruisers antique car club and $1,100 in other contributions from people living as far away as Ohio. Suozzi expects future donations to cover the rest of the cost.
Suozzi said the donation that touched him the most came from Emma Rose Kasyjanski, 9, and her brother Austin, 7, of New Hampshire. While visiting relatives in Glen Cove the day after the storm, they collected money in the neighborhood and presented Suozzi with a $25 check the same day. "It brought tears to my eyes," Suozzi said.
Emma said she collected the money because "everybody has really good memories. There's a lot of people who love this gazebo because it's really historic."
Among those with good memories is her father, Peter, who grew up in Glen Cove. "We came here all the time," he said. "We used to play here and go to concerts and even go sledding." So when he's back visiting relatives, he takes his family to Morgan Park.
Morgan Park was created in 1932, when financier J.P. Morgan Jr. purchased 20 acres and built the facility to honor his wife, Jane, who died in 1925.
"It was an extraordinary gift to the city," the mayor said. "Since that day in 1932 the gazebo has been the center point of the park and the heart of the city. Countless weddings and first kisses have taken place under its shelter," and it has been a film set.
One of those sharing a first kiss at the gazebo was city auxiliary police Officer Richie Wilson. He said he was about 16 and living in Hempstead when he and a girl he had been dating for several months but never kissed took two buses to get to Morgan Park, where he had gone many times with his parents.
"It was a nice summer day," he recalled. "We sat here on the gazebo, holding hands and talking. And then the right moment came."