NEWBURGH - The Newburgh Rowing Club hosted over 150 people at its "Salute to Veterans" and Boat Dedication Ceremony, in which the club honored local veterans, and several boats were dedicated to members of the community, said Coach Ed Kennedy, Programs Director of the Newburgh Rowing Club.
"With Veteran’s Day coming up, and with so many veterans having helped with this organization, from the Marines, to Senator Larkin, and Mr. Kaplan, along with so many parents and grandparents, and of course, Joey, we wanted to show our appreciation. We are very thankful to the U.S. Marine Corp.’s Sergeant Sayid and Cpl. Leonard who came out, presented the colors, and raised the Flag on the USMC Cpl. Joseph Tremblay Memorial Flagpole. For those who don’t know, Cpl. Tremblay was a longtime rower for the NRC and NFA Crew, and he was killed in Iraq in 2005, at the age of 23. One of the last things he did was come down to the Boathouse with his Marine buddies, and they built the south wall of our 6,000 square foot Boathouse."
Sister Yliana Hernandez, principal of the Nora Cronin Presentation Academy, gave the opening invocation. The Master of Ceremonies for the event was Town of Newburgh Supervisor Wayne Booth, a former U.S. Marine, said Coach Kennedy. After the colors were presented and the U.S. Flag was raised, Supervisor Booth asked the veterans in attendance to salute the flag, and led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.
"We have been very fortunate in our recent fundraising efforts," said Team Mom Juliana LoBiondo. "By purchasing gently used crew shells and re-conditioning them, we were able to acquire several crew shells for the price of one brand new one. We decided to name the shells after members of the community who have helped us out."
The first boat to be dedicated was named after William Kaplan, who had young rowers and coxswains Michael LoBiondo and Paris Liston "christen" his boat by pouring champagne on it. "Mr. Kaplan helped us out, when we had to leave the building we were in at the time, by letting us use the Regal Bag building," said Coach Kennedy. "He has also been a big fan of the NFA Crew Team."
Supervisor Booth christened the boat named after the Town of Newburgh, with the assistance of rowers who attended the Town of Newburgh Summer Rowing Camp. "We run a very successful Town of Newburgh Summer Camp, and we want to recognize the Town for this joint effort," said Coach Kennedy.
A boat was dedicated to the City of Newburgh. Mayor Judith Kennedy christened the boat with the help of rowers who reside in the City of Newburgh. "The Newburgh Rowing Club is also in partnership with the City of Newburgh, as we are the licensees of the Ward Brothers Memorial Park, this beautiful riverfront city of Newburgh park where our Boathouse and docks are located," said Coach Kennedy. Mayor Kennedy complimented the NFA Crew Team, noting that when the team was cut the athletes and families took action to get the team back "and that kind of action represents the spirit of the City of Newburgh," said Mayor Kennedy.
The family of Dr. Michele Winchester-Vega, including her husband Felix Vega, and daughter, Coach Natasha Vega, who rowed for Penn State during crew season 2012-2013 and is a sophomore there, was on hand to christen the boat named after Dr. Vega. "Dr. Vega said she wanted the loan on the Boathouse paid off, and she has stayed on to help fundraise until finally, with the last Corsairs Cup, we were able to pay off our Boathouse loan, something very few boathouses in the nation can claim," said Coach Kennedy.
The "Team Mom" Quad, a rare wooden boat, which had been used in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, and was reconditioned with the assistance of donations from adult rowers Juliana LoBiondo, Kathe Mills, and Lisa Davis, was christened by all the crew moms in attendance. "Without the crew moms, nothing gets done around here," said Coach Kennedy, "you ladies are the backbone of this organization and this crew shell is for all of you to row in."
Finally, the crew shell that was the most intricate recondition was dedicated to the Nora Cronin Presentation Academy. "These girls represent a new generation of rowers," said Coach Kennedy. "Through our partnership with Nora Cronin, we hope to see these girls become rowers at places like Penn State someday, like Coach Vega, and then go on to become the Mrs. Lo’s and Dr. Vegas of the world. This is the next generation of great rowers, right here."