BLOOMFIELD, NJ — A plaque honoring Dominick Ferrara III, the former Bloomfield Civic Band conductor and director, was unveiled on the grounds of the Civic Center this past Monday evening, July 9. Ferrara, who conducted the civic band for 43 years, was 78 when he died Feb. 13, 2017.
The dedication attracted about 100 people and the weather was perfect. Recreation Department Director Michael Sceurman acted as host while the Bloomfield Mandolin Orchestra and the Bloomfield Chorale, which sang “God Bless America,” provided music. Light refreshments were served and artificial roses of red fabric were available. The flowers had a small safety pin so many people wore them.
The plaque, which acknowledges five decades of community service, was affixed to a large rock obtained through the Essex County Park System. The stone was taken from Branch Brook Park. It was publicly acknowledged several times at the dedication that Bloomfield resident Paula Zaccone was largely responsible for the event.
In an interview before the activity got under way, Zaccone said that for a year she had been searching for a boulder on which to place the plaque. A firm in Pompton Lakes offered to donate one of two, but they proved unsatisfactory.
“They notified us that the rock couldn’t accommodate the plaque,” she said.
A boulder was selected to display the plaque, Zaccone said, “because they are pretty and naturalistic.”
A Seton Hall University professor and a former Bloomfield Board of Education member, Zaccone said she had gotten to know Ferrara through their association with UNICO, the Italian community service organization.
“I found Dom to be special,” she said. “We had a lot in common. He was a teacher, too. We would go to events.”
Ferrara had been music director for the Secaucus School District.
A tribute was given by Paul Alongi, a past president of UNICO. He thanked Zaccone for making the dedication a reality.
Alongi said he and Ferrara had been Boy Scouts together, but went their separate ways. By chance, they became friends later on after Ferrara had moved to Bloomfield and they bumped into each other outside St. Thomas the Apostle Church. A twist to the story was that their wives knew each other as co-workers, but they knew nothing about their husbands’ mutual past.
Ferrara, who had many musical accomplishments, was called by Alongi a musical genius with perfect pitch; someone who could play many instruments. Alongi credited him with mentoring many Bloomfield musicians.
“You can’t say too much for a friend,” Alongi said. “The memories are there. The memories in Bloomfield are there.”
Mayor Michael Venezia remembered Ferrara as “an absolute gentleman when I became part of UNICO 10 years ago.”
He, too, credited Zaccone for the dedication. He said she had come to him with the proposal and he was all for it, but she would have to do all the legwork. Fred Ardizzone, owner of Brookdale Barber Shop and Ferrara’s longtime barber, came to the dedication, too. He pointed to a photograph being displayed. It was of Ferrara in the barbershop.
“He was always the kind of guy, if there was a charity, the first to put his hand in his pocket,” Ardizzone said.
Above, the dedication ceremony on July 9. Below, the plaque and its rock base.