Camden’s Freedom Park needs paving stones

DUTY AND HONOR — Specialist Brian Carpenter, center, of Westmoreland, purchased a paver stone to honor his grandfather and veteran, the late Daniel Carpenter, who was instrumental in the completion of the Veterans Memorial Park in Remsen where he resided. He is pictured with Specialist Joshua Patzer, left, of Benton Harbor, Mich., and Sgt. Brian Stackpole, of West Haven, Conn., who are currently serving in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

CAMDEN — Camden Cycle Riders will host the Great American Ride for a Paver, with 100 percent of proceeds supporting Freedom Park, on Saturday, May 26.

The donation of $20 per vehicle or motorcycle, and $5 per passenger, includes one paver stone. The 40-mile ride will begin at 1:10 p.m. at the Walter’s Building on Harden Boulevard, with registration beginning at 11 a.m. Lunch will follow at the Camden Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6530 on Main Street, served by the Women’s Auxiliary.

Registration forms are available on site, or can be located online, along with additional information about the project and ways to donate at Forms for purchasing a paver are also available for those unable to participate in the ride who would still like to make a donation. Forms can be sent along with checks to Freedom Park Fund, 3682 Waldron Road, Camden N.Y. 13316.

Ride Chairman Frank Bergin said Camden Cycle Riders is looking forward to another successful fund-raising ride, which in the past have supported a variety of programs to support veterans, soldiers and families.

Bergin said anticipation is mounting as the dedication of Freedom Park in the village grows near, with more than $13,000 raised to date and countless volunteers offering labor and materials.

With only a few short months remaining until the scheduled dedication on Sept. 11, Camden Cycle Riders is preparing for a busy fund-raising season, which will kick off with the Memorial Day weekend ride that will not only pay homage to all veterans, but raise needed funding to pave the way to completion of Freedom Park.

Since breaking ground on the creek side Mexico Street site last summer, families, businesses, community and veterans organizations from across Oneida County have donated funding and materials to support the construction of the park, which will honor the 12 local soldiers who sacrificed their lives in combat since Sept. 11, 2001.

"We want it to be a peaceful place of remembrance, one where present and future generations can gather and reflect upon the sacrifices made by those fighting for our freedom," Bergin said.

A memorial ride last fall on Sept. 11 set the wheels in motion and since, hundreds of donors have contributed to the project. Funding raised to date will help to provide the memorial wall, made of granite, which will be inscribed with the names of Oneida County’s fallen soldiers; Lt. Col. David Green, Camden; Army Pfc. Gregory P. Huxley, Jr., Forestport; Army Capt. George A. Wood, Marcy; Army Sgt. Michael A. Uvanni, Rome; Marine Sgt. Elisha R. Parker, Camden; Army Cpt. John P. Sigsbee, Waterville; Army Sgt. Christopher C. Simpson, Rome; Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Alec Mazur, Vernon; Lance Cpl. Daniel J. Geary, Rome; Lance Cpl. Blaise A. Oleski, Holland Patent; Army Spc. Blair C. Thompson, Rome; and Lcpl. Jeremy S. Lasher, New Hartford.

The black granite wall will stand five feet high and eight feet wide, with 2-foot wide wings on each side. Funding to date will also aid in the installation of solar lighting, which will illuminate the pathway, memorial wall and gardens.

The Hillsboro Garden Club will assist with landscaping, including shrubbery and flower beds, while the Whitestown VFW, led by Commander Ken Hunter, has supplied a flagpole that will support the American flag. The latest fund-raising drive allows donors to purchase inscribed pavers which will be placed before the memorial wall.

Pavers can feature inscriptions honoring an individual, veteran, family, business or organization of a donor’s choosing. Recent pavers include those honoring Oneida County Sheriff’s Deputy Kurt Wyman, donated by Camden Cycle Riders; and one honoring the memory of Remsen veteran Daniel Carpenter, purchased by his grandson, U.S. Army Specialist Brian Carpenter, who is presently stationed in Helmand Province in Afghanistan.