The Russo family – Mario’s wife Diana, sons Steven and George and grandson Anthony – are joined by others including John Lepore of Rockaway’s Chamber of Commerce; Sanders; former chief of staff for Audrey Pheffer, Jo Ann Shapiro; 100 Precinct commander Captain Scott Olexa; Brian Heffernan from Community Board 14; Jerry R. La Mura, representing Borough President Helen Marshall; Vince Castellano from CB 14; and Sanders’ chief of staff Donovan Richards. Mario P. Russo was known as Mr. Rockaway for his more than 30 years of unselfish dedication to the peninsula. The man and his good works were celebrated on Tuesday at Beach 72 Street and Amstel Boulevard, when Amstel officially became Mario P. Russo Boulevard. Family, friends and community members gathered for a ceremony at the corner, across the street from the home where his wife Diana still resides, hosted by Councilman James Sanders Jr. The councilman remembered Russo, saying that he was special for “his love of Rockaway” and his “generosity.”
A broken string sends Russo’s son, George, up a ladder to remove the cover of his father’s street sign. Russo’s eldest son Steven said, “My father dedicated his life to the community … I hope you’re looking down, because here’s your street, Pop!”
Diana Russo put the day in perspective when she told The Wave, “He’d be so glad you’re all here.”
It was a day of applause and remembrance for the man affectionately known as Mr. Rockaway, as he was honored with a street renaming. Photos by Miriam Rosenberg
Steven Russo, left, with his mother, Diana, at Tuesday’s ceremony. Also pictured, Councilman James Sanders Jr.