Note found amid LI Sandy debris is from dead teen Sidonie Fery
In the summer of 2001, on one of her many visits to East Patchogue, 10-year-old Sidonie Fery wrote a simple message from a silly movie onto a piece of notebook paper, stuck it in a green, glass ginger-ale bottle and threw it into Great South Bay.
That bottle, with Fery's note, was found in December during superstorm Sandy cleanup, about 2 miles away on the beach at the Patchogue Beach Club -- and about a year and a half after Fery's accidental death at the age of 18.
"Be excellent to yourself, dude," it said.
The message is a line from the 1989 science fiction comedy movie "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure," one of Fery's favorites. She died in 2010 after falling off a cliff in Switzerland, where she was attending boarding school.
"It triggered all these memories," said Georgia Read, the daughter of Fery's mom's best friend, and one of the two sisters who hosted Fery every summer for her entire life. "I think if it's not a message [from her], then it's very ironic and very meaningful."
Read, who is now 23 and living in Manhattan, said Thursday that only two of the six bottles the three girls threw into the water over a couple summers have been found. A bottle tossed by her younger sister, Claire Read, was found the same year it was tossed -- also in 2001 -- a few communities to the west.
On Saturday, the Patchogue Parks Department staff plan to dedicate a plaque to Fery, said Maria Giustizia, Patchogue director of parks and recreation. The plaque will be placed on a rock in a flower garden near the beach where the bottle was found. The Read family and Fery's mother plan to attend.
The plaque has a picture of Fery and words underneath that say, "Be excellent to yourself, dude. I learned that even though someone is very small, they may have a big heart."
The note, which included a phone number, was found by workers who were cleaning up wood, garbage and other debris from the beach. Brian Waldron, an employee with the Patchogue Parks Department for 23 years, dialed the number thinking it was a joke.
He left a message for Mimi Fery, 58, of Manhattan, Fery's mother, who is still living in the same apartment that she was when Sidonie was 10. When she called him back, he was shocked.
"She wanted that bottle really bad," he said Thursday.
Waldron arranged for Mimi to pick up the bottle, and handed her a second bottle that he filled with sand from the beach where the note was found.
"I said to her that I really feel that your daughter was looking down on us, wanted us to find the bottle and wanted us to give you a call," Waldron said.
Mugs with a picture drawn by Fery will be sold at Saturday's event, with proceeds going toward what the department calls The Sidonie Foundation. The fund will be used to pay for children to attend arts programs offered through the department during the summer.
The event will take place at noon at Patchogue Beach Club.
"They're making her a permanent resident of that town," Mimi Fery said. "It makes her spirit continue."