After Hopatcong's Fireman's Park was recently completed this summer after several years of planning and new additions, there will be a special flag raising ceremony and dedication on Sunday.
In a space that was once just six oak trees behind Hopatcong's Municipal Building, now stands a bronze statue dedicated to the Hopatcong firemen, two World Trade Center artifacts, a monument honoring the first responders of 9/11, all surrounded by flowers and an aquascape.
All of the pieces in the park came together over a two-year time span, as the park's vision changed overtime and the community came together to donate the different elements that made the park what it is today. Sunday's ceremony will be held at 3:30 p.m.
"There's a whole symbolic situation happening in the midst of that little park that we had just decided to build," Mayor Sylvia Petillo said. "It became something so much more to the community because now we have a piece of history that's sitting in Fireman's Park."
Petillo said the concept began in 2010 when borough officials had to take down the dying oak trees because they were a hazard to the environment.
"Once they were down we saw this scope of the property; how big it was," Petillo said. "We realized it would make a beautiful park."
And the park grew from there, first starting out as a tribute to the fire department. The borough put in a bronze statue depicting a Hopatcong fireman that honors all of those who served the borough in the past, present and future, and also an emblem made of colored pavers, with all of the chiefs' names listed on it.
Later in 2011 when the borough received two artifacts from the World Trade Center in, the park became something more.
"It [the concept] just evolved," she said. "And all of the sudden the park became something bigger than our own firefighters and our own department."
Today, two artifacts from each tower of the Twin Towers and a pentagon-shaped monument dedicated to 9/11 also stand in the park, honoring all the first responders in addition to the firemen in Hopatcong, which Petillo says represents the "brotherhood that's stretched across our state into New York City and into the heart of our nation."
The flag raising ceremony on Sunday will begin with comments from Petillo, telling the story of the park and how the community came together to build it, and thanking all those who contributed.
Hopatcong fire chief Wade Crowley will be making a presentation and awarding a silver pin to all of the donors.
At the second part of the ceremony, the flag at the site—which was raised at this years 9/11 ceremony—will be lowered, and the Hopatcong Fire Department flag will be attached. Then Petillo said officials "will be raising both flags as a sign of completion and a sign of pride and honor."
The completion of the park is from the joint efforts from many community members incuding DPW Superintendent Ron Jobeless who did the landscaping, Pieter Van Westervelt, of Premium Aquascapes, who donated the aquascape, Debbie Cianfrone, of Kodiak Tree Experts, who worked with the landscaping, Rich Hoer, of Lakeside Construction who donated the bollard lights, and from Jesse & Sons Lawn Services LLC who donated the pavers and helped with the flag pole and mulch.
The World Trade Center artifacts were brought with the help of State Sen. Steve Oroho, and PSE&G and the Hudson Farm Foundation donated to the park.
"It will be a nice representation of the community," Petillo said. "It's going to be a very symbolic ceremony."