Collins Road will always be home to Glen Cove’s Nicholas Pedone.
Nicholas died in May 2013 at the age of 7 after a seven-month battle with cancer, but this week, the street where he lived will be christened with a second name, “Sweet Nicholas’ Path,” in his honor.
The City of Glen Cove has already installed the first sign at the intersection of Collins Road and Southridge Drive, but it’s being concealed by a tarp until the city holds an unveiling ceremony on Saturday, which would have been Nicholas’ ninth birthday.
“It’s just another way to show to the parents that their community is still there for them,” said Zefy Christopoulos, the city’s chief of staff. “Glen Cove cares deeply, loves deeply and supports families every step of the way, especially in instances like this.”
Since the road, which runs about a third of a mile to Robert Road in Glen Head, stretches into the Town of Oyster Bay, the town is also erecting signs at three other intersections. Nicholas was a student of Glen Head Elementary School.
“He was just such a loving little boy and made a lot of friends,” said his mother, Josephine Pedone, 41, a Glen Cove native.
Pedone said both communities have been incredibly supportive of her family since her son was diagnosed in October 2012 with stage 3 neuroblastoma.
A Facebook page the family created that December called “Sweet Nicholas Battles Neuroblastoma” has nearly 10,500 followers, and hundreds of runners participated in the first annual Nicholas Pedone 5K run in April 2013.
This year’s run, scheduled for Sept. 7, will raise funds for a foundation the Pedones created in their son’s honor to help other families who have children battling cancer. The charity’s motto is “Fight Hard, Smile Big.” That was a phrase Pedone said she often told Nicholas as he underwent yet another treatment or procedure.
“Even when he had to get poked and pricked … he would still smile,” she said. “His smile was very infectious.”
The Pedones next-door neighbor, Janice Zangari, said Nicholas’ smile left a lasting impression on her.
“He was a remarkable little child,” she said. “He literally glowed when you met him.”
It was Zangari, 65, who led the street sign effort. She and her husband, Michael, 54, who are both wheelchair-bound, went door-to-door collecting signatures from their neighbors for a petition they filed with the city and later sent to the town. Both agencies approved the request last week.
The Zangaris also planted a memorial tree for Nicholas on their property facing the Pedones home, which she refers to as a “bridge,” symbolizing the connection the families now have.
“Nicholas brought everybody together,” she said.
When the community learned Nicholas had passed away in a Philadelphia hospital from complications related to a stem-cell transplant, Zangari said several residents quickly decorated the neighborhood in yellow ribbons.
“The day the parents came home … there were yellow ribbons everywhere,” she added.
Zangari said she hopes the new street signs will bring some joy to Pedone and her husband, Nick.
Pedone said when she sees them, she will smile and feel proud of her son‘s heroic battle and the impact he had on his community.
“He’ll never be forgotten,” she said. “He’s definitely left his footprints in the City of Glen Cove and the Glen Head community; very deep footprints.”