The street in front of Polish Hall will now be known as Ziggy’s Way in honor of the late Riverhead postmaster and longtime Polish Hall President Zbigniew “Ziggy” Wilinski.
Wilinski died at age 74 in March. A Riverhead resident since his youth, he graduated from Riverhead High School in 1964, attended Suffolk County Community College and then served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971.
“Ziggy’s passing left a huge hole in the hearts of the Polish community and the Town of Riverhead,” Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said. “The renaming of Marcy Avenue to Ziggy’s Way, in front of Ziggy’s beloved Polish Hall, is a fitting tribute which I know Ziggy would be very, very proud of.”
During a ceremony Saturday morning, members of the Polish Hall and Wilinski’s family were joined by the local elected officials to unveil the sign on the corner of Pulaski Street and Marcy Avenue.
“I wasn’t expecting to have something like this happening,” Wilinski’s wife Wanda Zilinski said of the designation. “This is really a great honor to have something like this happening.”
The sign was to be unveiled by Wilinski’s grandsons, Austin and Adam, by pulling a rope to remove a cover. When they pulled the rope, however, it broke off the cover. Austin had to climb on his father Mark’s shoulders and rip the cover off the sign by hand.
“I think it’s an honor for my sister and myself to have a street designated for your brother. It’s beyond comprehension a little bit,” Wilinski’s brother Roman Wilinski said. “I think my mom and dad would be very, very proud.”
Tom Najdzion, Wilinski’s nephew and Polish Hall president, said the dedication was a long time coming. “He definitely cared for his town. He took everything to heart and took everything personally and made everybody feel better. It’s a nice day, a nice dedication to a well deserved individual,” Najdzion said.
“There was a great turnout today to honor Ziggy. It certainly represents what he meant to the community and certainly he’ll never be forgotten,” Polish Hall Ladies Auxiliary President Lisa Dabrowski said.
Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio told the story of her family attending steak night at the Polish Hall. She said Ziggy was always so welcoming. “He always made everybody feel a little bit special in their own way. And I couldn’t think of a better thing for the town to do than name this Ziggy’s Way,” Giglio said.
“It was really great to see so many people assembled here this morning and our wonderful little Polish town USA,” Councilwoman Catherine Kent said. “As someone who grew up here, I have fond memories of Polish Hall and the Polish fair and all of the events. And certainly, Ziggy was a huge part of that.”
“He put his heart and soul into the Polish Hall and the community,” Councilman Ken Rothwell said. “He’s an icon to so many of us. And now it’s just a true blessing that people are going to walk out of Polish Hall and they’re going to step right onto Ziggy’s way.”
After the ceremony, members of the community gathered in Polish Hall for lunch.
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