Canastota brings about honors of distinction

No matter the dreary sky and the constant sprinkle of rain in the streets of Canastota, community members showed their Raiders pride Friday Oct. 2 with multi-colored umbrellas and ponchos to brave the weather and cheer on the homecoming parade participants.

Two of the four Wall of Distinction inductees, town of Lenox Supervisor Rocky DiVeronica and Greg Sgroi, also participated by riding in cars in the parade. Retired Navy Admiral Edmund Giambastiani Jr., boxing great Carmen Basilio, Sgroi and DiVeronica will be honored at a dinner ceremony tonight at the Rusty Rail in Canastota. Basilio was unable to attend because of an illness, according to Canastota Central School District Athletic Director and Wall of Distinction Chairperson Stephen Tornatore. Giambastiani was also unable to attend because of a state dinner he was already committed to attending.

DiVeronica is a 1955 graduate of Canastota High School, Giambastiani graduated in 1966, Sgroi is a member of the class of 1937 and Basilio is a graduate of the class of 2009 thanks to the military's service of Operation Recognition Program.

Community members gathered at the Rusty Rail by 6:30 p.m. after the parade for cocktails and mingling time before the dinner that the Canastota Wall of Distinction Committee has planned for months. Superintendent of Schools Fred Bragan was in attendance to honor the inductees, as well as other familiar faces that joined to celebrate their neighbors' success.

Inductees Sgroi and DiVeronica attended the dinner with several family members, some that traveled hundreds of miles to celebrate. Sgroi, now a resident of Cranford, N.J., traveled more than 300 miles with his daughter Betty Burke of Trumbull, Conn.

"I knew he wanted to be here," Burke said of the importance of making the long trip for Friday night's induction ceremony. "It's different from other awards he has won, this is from his hometown, it's special."

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