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Girl who wrote message in a bottle honored

Patchogue Village officials dedicate a plaque at Patchogue Beach Club to Sidonie Fery, 12 years after she threw her inspiring message in a bottle into the Great South Bay. Fery, of Manhattan, who was 10 when she wrote the message, died in 2010. Workers helped reunite her mother with Fery's message, "Be excellent to yourself dude," after finding the bottle in December during superstorm Sandy cleanup. Videojournalist: Stringer News Service (July 13, 2013)

A dozen years after Sidonie Fery scrawled a message on a piece of notebook paper, sealed it in a bottle and tossed it into the Great South Bay, her words were immortalized Saturday on the Patchogue Village beach where the missive landed.

The bottle and note, penned by then 10-year-old Fery of Manhattan, were found in December during superstorm Sandy cleanup, at the Patchogue Beach Club -- and about a year and a half after Fery's death.

"Sidonie has become part of our community," Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri said at Saturday's beach club ceremony before Fery's 75 teary-eyed family and friends, as well as village officials.

"I want to thank Patchogue for all this effort and for making her part of their town," her mother, Mimi Fery, 58, of Manhattan, said moments after crying.

The plaque, with the Dec. 6, 2012, discovery date, was placed on a rock in a flower garden near the beach where the bottle was found, about 2 miles from where it was dropped. The plaque has a picture of Sidonie Fery above the words: "Be excellent to yourself dude," as she wrote in the message in the bottle.

"This is a wonderful tribute to a beautiful young life," said Maria Giustizia, director of the village parks and recreation.

In the summer of 2001, on one of Fery's many visits to a friend's summer home in East Patchogue, she wrote a message with the line loosely lifted from the 1989 science-fiction comedy movie "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure," one of her favorites.

She died in 2010 at age 18, after falling off a cliff in Switzerland, where she was in school.

The note, which included the phone number of Fery's mother, was found by Garrett Rivers, then a FEMA worker who was cleaning up debris from the beach. Brian Waldron, a village parks employee, dialed the number and eventually reached Mimi Frey.

"If there is anything we could learn from this is that it took me one minute of time to pick up this bottle," said Rivers, 32, of Bayport. "If you can spend one minute of time impacting someone's life for the positive, we would all be in a better place."

In Fery's honor, her family, friends and village officials tossed white and red carnations into the ocean, uttering: "Sidonie will live on forever."

"It's amazing because she's not here with me today," said Fery's best friend, Angela Fox, 21, of Manhattan, "but she remains the light in my life."

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