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Piazza 9/11 tribute wins 'Banner Day' at Citi Field

The winning entry from the New York Mets

The winning entry from the New York Mets first banner day since 1996 at Citi Field. (May 27, 2012) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

The revived Banner Day, an event born of nostalgia, was won Sunday by two cousins from Brooklyn whose entry was a mix of nostalgia and patriotism.

"We always try to do something fun on Memorial Day weekend," said Olivia Nuzzo, 26, of Bay Ridge, a student at Farmingdale State, who teamed with Stephanie Giangrande of Bensonhurst to depict Mike Piazza's home run in the first game in New York after 9/11.

Both women were in high school at the time, and both remember that night vividly. "I remember it was the first thing that made you smile and it made you cry," Giangrande said. "Every time you watch it, it gives you chills. It brought New York together."

Thus the wording on the banner, which featured Piazza swinging in front of the New York skyline, including the twin towers: "THE HOME RUN THAT HELPED HEAL NY. GOD BLESS AMERICA! LET'S GO METS!"

Nuzzo said she actually met Piazza once, at L & B Spumoni Gardens pizza restaurant in Brooklyn, and added that the cousins took pride in finding just the right texture and color of brown and yellow yarn to represent Piazza's hair. They came up with the concept while texting back and forth Friday, then worked on the project from 9 p.m. Saturday until 3:30 a.m. Sunday (with time out to watch "Saturday Night Live").

The winners are too young to remember much about the Mets' tradition of Banner Day, which was brought back as part of the team's 50th anniversary celebration. It had not been held since 1996. "Whatever I got was from Google on Thursday," Nuzzo said. "I hope they bring it back every year."

Mets players were preparing for the game, so they did not see the 300-plus entries on parade. "I saw the one that won, which was fantastic," said R.A. Dickey, Sunday's winning pitcher.

Said David Wright: "I drove in this morning, it must have been 9 o'clock, and they were already starting to line up. It was cool to have one of these throwback days where you remember the history. I thought it was a great day and it was a great idea, whoever came up with it."

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