Bronx Week 2010 came to a heartfelt ending as four inductees were enshrined on the Bronx Walk of Fame in front of the County Courthouse on Sunday, May 23. Unveiling the street signs for famous Bronxites was the kick off for a parade, a food and arts festival, and arm wrestling contest on Mosholu Parkway celebrating the best of the borough.
Street signs bearing the names of former Borough President and Congressman Herman Badillo, Essence Magazine founder and chairman Ed Lewis, Celtic musicians Joanie Madden and her band Cherish the Ladies, and romantic singer Jerry Vale were unveiled on the steps of the courthouse. The Walk of Fame runs south from the courthouse on the Grand Concourse from East 161 Street. Prior to unveiling the sign, Borough President Diaz paid tribute to volunteers by honoring young people who participate in the law-enforcement Explorers Program.
The inductees were praised at the Bronx Ball, an annual black tie dinner that took place on Saturday, May 22 at Orchard Beach. It’s hosted by the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation in conjunction with the Bronx Tourism Council. “We are honoring these individuals who are doing fantastic work not just here in the Bronx but all over the world,” Diaz said in his remarks.
All of the honorees were born and bred in the Bronx. Herman Badillo made a name for himself registering Latinos to vote during the 1960 presidential campaign, and became the first person of Puerto Rican decent to become a city commissioner. He was elected borough president in 1965 and to Congress in 1970, where he championed bilingual education. He later went on to become an education leader as a member of the C.U.N.Y. board of trustees.
Jerry Vale got his start singing in barbershops as a young man and became one of the best-known romantic singers of his generation. At the Bronx Ball, a melody including the Italian favorite “Volare” was performed in his honor.
For honoree Lewis, being enshrined into immortality on the Grand Concourse was particularly significant. “We always wanted to live on the Grand Concourse when we were growing up because of the great apartments,” Lewis said. “I used to go to the Paradise Theater with my parents.” Lewis added that he has fond memories of the Bronx and continues to work with Meals on Wheels to feed the elderly at East 169th Street and Washington Avenue where he grew up.
For Grammy award winning composer and flute player Joanie Madden, leader of the Irish band Cherish the Ladies, being enshrined into the Walk of Fame came assurprise. “I am on the road 200 days a year and didn’t even realize that there was a Walk of Fame; I am honored to be a part of it.” Madden said that her introduction to music occurred as youngster growing up in Woodlawn, when her father who was a well-know band leader encouraged her to become a musician.
All four inductees beamed at each other as audience members applauded their achievements.
Reach reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742-3393 or firstname.lastname@example.org.