After 21 summers as director of the Cazenovia Joint Youth Recreation Program, Joe Fallon will be not be reprising his familiar role, due to a recent ankle injury. Elizabeth Digiacomo, a Cazenovia resident and health and wellness professional, will head up the popular program, which runs from June 25 to Aug. 3 at Lakeland Park.
“I met a lot of great people and had a great time. Almost all of the kids on the staff were from Cazenovia, and I really enjoyed working with them. The waterfront playground was great, but I think the best thing about [the recreation program], are the cooperative efforts between the three towns and village of Cazenovia. That has to be maintained in these days of budgets concerns,” Fallon said. “I’ll miss it, but Digiacomo is a go-getter and will be a great replacement.”
The recreation program, which dates back to 1946, runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday and is open to all children who reside in the village of Cazenovia, as well as the towns of Cazenovia, Fenner and Nelson. Fallon said an average of 130 area children participate each summer, where they can swim, play games and sports, complete crafts and activities as well as take weekly field trips to local attractions. Two certified lifeguards are on duty at all times, as well as about seven counselors.
“I’m very excited. I’m looking forward to following Joe’s lead this year, doing very similar programming to what he has done in the past, so as to keep the transition between directors smooth. I’ll look to the parents and children, as well as my counselors and lifeguards, to lead me into this year, finding out what works and what doesn’t … expand on the program, find new field trip locations and activities,” Digiacomo said. “I’m going to take it slow, see where change needs to happen. Hopefully the program’s enrollment will evolve over time.”
Fallon began the job in April of 1990, taking over for Tom Blackford. Raised in Rhode Island, he became an educator after graduating college and serving in Vietnam. Upon moving to Cazenovia 22 years ago, Fallon taught for a number of area schools before retiring from his teaching position at DeRuyter in 2008.
After injuring his left ankle earlier this year, Fallon has been confined to crutches and decided last summer would be his last as the program director. “It’s literally a sore subject,” he joked. However, Fallon said his doctors are confident he will be out of his cast in mid-July or early-August, and able to resume walking, jogging and cycling.
Digiacomo is also very active, having grown up participating in gymnastics, swimming and other competitive sports in Florida. She moved to Cazenovia two years ago with her husband Joshua (a Cazenovia native). She has worked as a physical trainer and educator, most recently with fourth-graders of the Fabius school district as a wellness and nutrition educator.
After officially being offered the position in mid-March Digiacomo said she has been busy studying Fallon’s format, and becoming acquainted with the staff and setting.
She said this year she will be focused on enhancing communication between campers, counselors and parents, as well as the structure of the four-hour program and catalog of offered activities.
Dave Porter, a village trustee and board member of the Cazenovia Joint Youth Recreation Commission, said he is sad to see Fallon depart from the position, but is excited for Digiacomo’s arrival.
“I sense there is a bit of renewed interest with other members of the board. Elizabeth has already been in contact with them, and there is a heightened sense of awareness,” Porter said. “We were looking for somebody that [has] a high level of maturity, organization and basically could take the great program Joe had established, and run with it. She’s already off to a great start.”
Registration for the program is open throughout the summer, but sign-up sessions will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. June 7 and from 10:30 a.m. to noon June 9 at Lakeland Park.
Children must have completed kindergarten to participate.
For more information, email email@example.com, visit the program’s facebook site at facebook.com/cazrec or the Cazenovia village website at villageofcazenovia.com.
Pierce Smith is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at 434-8889 ext. 338 or firstname.lastname@example.org.