‘Nothing but respect in our hearts'

| 22 Feb 2012 | 01:43

    Monroe Cheese Festival chair explains Sept. 11 scheduling and plans Editor’s note: The following is the letter Joseph Mancuso, the committee chairman of Action in Monroe, wrote to a resident who criticized the group for scheduling the Monroe Cheese Festival on the second Saturday of September, which this year falls on Sept. 11, the anniversary of the terrorist attacks in 2001. It’s published here because it’s likely other people may have the same concerns. Robert, I’m very sorry you are disappointed. Hopefully, when I explain to you about the Action in Monroe committee and the history and intent of the Cheese Festival, you will understand that there is no malice or disrespect in our hearts. The Cheese Festival is organized by a group of local volunteers, which form Action in Monroe. We are not merchants or promoters, a political activist group nor do any of us gain financially from the day. Some of us have been doing this for the last 15 years. The Cheese festival was born in 1995 to continue the once a year sense of community, which was started with the 1994 Village centennial celebration and was fashioned after that 1994 event. The Committee still sees the event as a local gathering of our friends and neighbors and a way to reaffirm that sense of oneness. At that time, the birth of Liederkrantz and Velvetta in Monroe was just a novel way to name the event. To this end, we have stayed local and have resisted pressure to expand the day and reach to the outside to promote and grow the event, which we feel, would be a detriment to the original intent. Again, we are a local event, and a way for our community to gather. In regards to 9/11, we have made some changes this year so as to recognize the day and carry the respect of that horrific event: • We did away with the bands we normally hire and have limited the entertainment stage to two acts: one patriotic band which will only play patriotic music and an Elvis impersonator who again will do patriotic songs. • We will start with an invocation acknowledging the day and will have a symbolic candle displayed through-out. • Each booth will be given a “Never Forget” 9/11 decal to prominently display and the information booth will be giving them out for free. • We are ending the event one hour earlier that day so as to have the area cleaned up and open for the Candlelight Vigil at 7 p.m. • We have been advertising for the last four months a quarter page a month in The Photo News stating how this year, the Cheese Festival was dedicated to the events of 9/11. I can assure to you that no one on the committee has taken this lightly. As a matter of fact, there are those of us who have been involved with the community and have served as volunteers the day of 9/11, organizing an outreach center with the local clergy association and the fire department, setting up a committee that raised more than $40,000 - all of which went to the six families of the local victims, spearheaded the group and physically worked on the construction of the 9/11 walkway garden and have been active every year since with the Village’s Candlelight Vigil. I understand, this is an emotional issue to many, myself included, and you are free to your opinion. But be assured those of us involved have nothing but respect in our hearts and have a long history of discerned action of which to be proud. If you feel there is something more we could be doing, feel free to make that suggestion. Joseph Mancuso Action in Monroe Committee Chairman