Late Al Slootsky Pioneer Of Sports For Handicapped, Remembered At DiDomenico-16th Street Park Rededication


Recreation Activist Al Slootsky Remembered At Park Rededication

The late Al Slootsky, a pioneer of sports for the handicapped, was honored at a ceremony at DiDomenico-16th Street Park.

At the event, a plaque was unveiled naming the playground for special needs children in his honor.

The late Mr. Slootsky ran Bayonne’s Ability Day Camp, established basketball teams for people in wheelchairs, and prepared participants for the Special Olympics.

In 1994, the former Juliette Street Park in Bergen Point was renamed Al Slootsky Park.

After the Port Authority reconstructed and expanded the Bayonne Bridge, Al Slootsky Park could not reopen.

By rededicating the special needs playground at 16th Street to Al Slootsky, the City of Bayonne has returned his name to the municipal park system.

The ceremony included members of the Slootsky family, former colleagues from the Bayonne Recreation Division, people with special needs, and City officials.  

Mayor Davis recalled spending every day of his childhood at Juliette Street Park, which became Al Slootsky Park when the mayor was a police officer.

He called playing at the park his “greatest joy.”

“How appropriate,” Mayor Davis said, about naming the first special needs playground for Al Slootsky, “who made people feel better.”

Mayor Davis referred to the rededication for Al Slootsky as “a great, proud moment.”

City Council President Gary LaPelusa called the rededication “a well-deserved honor” for Al Slootsky.

Council President LaPelusa said that Mr. Slootsky had “a love” for what he was doing for people with special needs.

As the parent of children with special needs, Council Member At-Large Juan Perez said he is “fully aware of the challenges of children with special needs.”

He called Al Slootsky someone who “served and encouraged [others] to excellence.”

First Ward Council Member Neil Carroll expressed his happiness that the rededicated Slootsky Playgound is located in the First Ward portion of DiDomenico-16th Street Park.

He recalled playing in the former Slootsky Park next to the Bayonne Bridge.

Referring to Al Slootsky with “particular pride,”Council Member Carroll called him one of “the people who care,” and “what we (Bayonne) put out into the world.”  

Second Ward Council Member Jackie Weimmer applauded all of those at the event who traveled long distances to take part in the ceremony.

She recalled Al Slootsky’s advocacy for children and adults with special needs.  Council Member Weimmer said that “Bayonne was blessed with individuals such as Al Slootsky,” and more recent Recreation officials Pete Amadeo, Donna Killmer, and the late Kelsey O’Donnell. 

Jill Slootsky, daughter of Al, thanked Mayor Davis, the City Council Members, family members, and former Recreation employee Jane Mulligan for attending the event.

She said, “We are so proud of our father,” and recalled how he taught his children sports.

Dawn Slootsky, Al’s other daughter, said, “He was always a teacher,” and cited her father’s involvement with the Special Olympics.

She recalled that he walked with crutches in Bayonne’s parades.

Dawn concluded, “He loved the city and the special people.”

Banner Image: Rededication Ceremony for Al Slootsky Playground:The special needs playground at DiDomenico-16th Street Park has been rededicated to the late Al Slootsky, who was a prominent organizerof sports for the handicapped. Members of the Slootsky family, City officials, former colleagues of Al Slootsky, and others came to the ceremony. Pictured left to right: Jill Slootsky, Dawn Slootsky, City Council President Gary LaPelusa, Public Works Director Tom Cotter, Recreation Superintendent Pete Amadeo, Mayor Jimmy Davis, David (a Recreation program participant), Second Ward Council Member Jacqueline Weimmer, First Ward Council Member Neil Carroll, Council Member At-Large Juan Perez, and Aslin (David’s mother).  Image Credit – City of Bayonne


City of Bayonne

Bayonne is a community that retains many of the elements of a small town. One and two family homes, small apartment buildings, and small business predominate. There is a population of 62,000 people who take pride in their hometown and its history. Bayonne residents and their ancestors moved to the city from many parts of the world. During colonial times and the first century of the American Republic, the Dutch, British, and Africans were the first groups to arrive after the Native Americans. Subsequent waves of immigrants came from all over Europe, especially between the 1880s and the 1920s. In recent decades, sources of immigration have largely been represented from countries in Latin America, the Middle East, and Southeastern Asia. Each group has left its mark on the cultural, religious and political life of the community.

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