My Park in MyYonkers

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Bregano7I’m not sure if it’s a New York thing or an urban thing but it seems as though if you grew up in a city environment, you also grew up going to a neighborhood park, over and over, for hours on end of your youth.

For me it was many parks actually, but the one that was awarded most of my time was Bregano Park & Playground, sprawling with 4 acres of fields, playgrounds, basketball courts and more.

Situated on the corner of Rigby and Brandon St., it was like a second home for me, whether that meant playing on the swings, the slide, or as I got older, countless games on the basketball court, football games on the field, or as I got even more in adolescense, lighting off M-80’s in the woods and working on my Night Moves with the ladies.

One way or another, I think I spent more time there then at home during certain times of the year and that was fine by me as my firends and I would take the 5 minute stroll from my apartment down the road and arrive on foot with our basketball, our football, our water bottle and our dreams.Bregano6

If you were wondering, the place is named after Sebastiano P. Scelza or “Buster” as his memorial reads at the foot of the park, apparently a civic leader in youth and adult sports, the guy seemed to be one of those rare Yonkers City workers who actually clocked in and went right to work.

Based on his memorialized depiction, he seemed like a nice guy and obviously the city was much better off for his service; at least I know I was because of the park that bared his name.

Thankfully unlike other childhood haunts that have bit the dust with time, this place is still alive and well and even thriving, hosting various softball leagues, flag football and soccer games year round as well as a steady pace of a new generation of kids seeking the same pleasures we indulged in while young and reckless.

The playground has never looked better and honestly, I’m a bit jealous, as this sparkling new equipment would have made my formative years that much more fun!

Bregano9In terms of the famed basketball court, it’s still intact and still doing its thing and the hoops even have nets attached, a constant disappointment for us when we would arrive and sadly they had been pulled or cut down.  I swear I’ve never seen a city park go through so many basketball nets but either we were way too rough on them or apparently lurking in this predominately Italian neighborhood is a Paisan with a white netting fetish.

Bregano4We certainly ran the gamut though on that court, racing up and down for hours on end and then eventually moving on and making the games…ahem… more interesting you might say by placing wagers on the games.

Some days I would be out in the first game having spent my only $10 for the week while other days, I’d walk away with over $50 in hand.

As you can imagine, the Movie White Men Can’t Jump was like our bible for this kind of hijinx and it grew so large that kids from Mt. Vernon and even the Bronx would come out to Bregano to play and the wait to get into a game would sometimes take hours if not most of the afternoon.

One small but “could have been useful” addition to the park is the Porto Potty that can be found along the eastern edge of Bregano.  Even though in theory this would have be spectacular, I can just picture the older kids pushing the entire thing over or blowing it up with an M-80, especially while I was in it!

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But honestly, I love my Park in MyYonkers, I truly do.  How can you not love a place where so much of your childhood story was written?  I’m sure most of you reading this had a park that was your own and I’d love to hear about it so be sure and leave your park in your Yonkers in the comments below.

Thanks for all the memories Buster!

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—Josh

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2 thoughts on “My Park in MyYonkers

  1. We are fortunate to have had such a place to go in our youth, though you are probably right about blowing up the porta-potty. While attending little league baseball, I always had games there. I remember the dual quality of it’s two ballfields which almost made it feel like two different places in hindsight. I also remember the shortcuts that I would take through the fields on my route to deliver Pennysavers throughout the neighborhood.

    My Park in Yonkers is the infamous Scotti Field on Bronx River Road. I lived directly across the street from it, so it was a big part of my life growing up in Yonkers. I remember at an early age, walking through the woods beside the parkway and noticing remnants of treehouses built by youths of the past. This intrigued me so much that I wound up building my very own treehouse beside the retaining wall opposite side of the current location of “Burke’s” bar & grill. Anyone daring enough to venture across a landscape of brambles and discarded kitchen appliances can still find the tree in which it was located. Just look for the nails (yes, nails. I had very little horticultural experience at age 13).

    A distinct experience that has altered the course of my life forever was at age 9 or 10, while I was riding my bicycle at the top of the entrance to the park. I was overlooking the ballfield below at which my brother and friends were playing a game of baseball. When I noticed that I was getting to close the the edge of the cliff, I hit the brakes and began skidding along a carpet of dead pine needles. I swiftly went over the edge of the precipice and plummeted down toward the bottom of a rocky ravine, head first.

    I do not exaggerate when I say that I saw my brief, but entire life flash before me as I fell. I remember falling for such a long time that I had time to think, “this is going to be really bad”. I thought this as I watched my brother and friends on the ballfield below desperately running toward me on my way down.

    The impact was a bright flash of light that seemed to last forever. The next thing I knew, I was on the ballfield surrounded by my brother’s friends. I immediately began to freak out, believing that I was now paralysed. As I flailed about, it became clear that I was not paralysed, nor injured in any way. We were all baffled until we discovered that I had landed, head first, onto a discarded microwave oven, which displayed an impact crater in the shape of my head.

    It is ironic how my life was spared because a lazy idiot decided to defoul our beautiful park with their broken microwave. However, it has given me a unique perspective to always respect waste and refuse in any form, for one day it may save my life! (again)

  2. Bregano park is not named for Mr. Scelza, whose memorial was placed many, many years afterward. Rather, its name is combines the last names of two local service members who died in World War II. Joseph P. Breglia, for whom the next street south of Rigby Street was named, and Patrick Pisano.

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