Local officials, community leaders, and a packed park filled with Lanieri family members and neighbors came together over Labor Day weekend to dedicate the playground & park at the former site of St Anthony’s School (aka San Remo Park & Playground) in memory of “John John” Lanieri. On Saturday, September 2nd, 2023 Supervisor Ed Wehrheim led the dedication ceremony together with Anthony Lanieri, with support from fellow local officials, members of the Parks Department & Public Safety. Approximately fifty members of the Lanieri family, the Vita family, and neighbors of the Kings Park community cut a ribbon commemorating the dedication in front of the new park sign.
“Kings Park is a special place to call home. We’re a very proud community, with a true appreciation for our history and giving back to our hometown. The Lanieri family embodies these roots. Throughout all five generations, many have worked in public service, at the former hospital, or right here in local government. They’ve served our Country, volunteered as first responders, and contributed to the enrichment of our future generations. That tradition of service is at the very core of what makes this community so special. It’s a privilege to commemorate this special occasion here today… which I hope and believe will inspire future generations to follow in your footsteps.,” said Supervisor Ed Wehrheim.
The Lanieri Family has a long history in the hamlet of Kings Park, with almost a century, and five generations of calling the Township of Smithtown home. In 1980, John Lanieri, fondly remembered as “John John,” was struck and tragically killed by a drunk driver at the tender age of fifteen, in front of the old St. Anthony’s School. Years later, an attempt to rename the street “John’s Way” was never brought to fruition, when the old St. Anthony School was torn down, and eventually constructed into a residential development. The request to rededicate the park where John and his siblings grew up playing was formalized by Anthony Lanieri earlier this year. In the request, Lanieri referenced his family members who had passed away before their time and how he dreamed of a place where the youngest generation; his first grandson, would come to play and learn all about his legacy.
“It’s a great tribute to all of the Lanieri generations, past, present and future, for this to be happening today. Obviously we wouldn’t all be here today if not for my brother John. And I think he’s with us today, together with my son, and my father, smiling in celebration on this gorgeous sunny day,” added Anthony Lanieri.
Arrangements and logistics to facilitate the park rededication were orchestrated by Mitch Crowley, Director of Traffic Safety, Joe Arico, Director of Parks, Buildings & Grounds, Tom Heester, Assistant Town Park Maintenance Director, and Michael Grosskopf, Project Manager.