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“We Are Massena” photo display unveiled

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MASSENA — Dozens of past and present Massena faces stared out at the crowd gathered Wednesday morning in the East Orvis Street Park.

Pictured on the new We Are Massena photo display unveiled Wednesday are the late Louie Trevino, whose attendance at local sporting events was legendary, and Hal Smith, who rose to fame by playing Otis Campbell, the town drunk on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

The first Massena high school football and hockey teams from the 1930s are there, as are current residents such as museum archivist Sally Yeddo and Treasurer Daniel E. Case. In total, approximately 60 pictures hang on the new display.

“It reflects what Massena is all about,” businessman Real C. “Frenchie” Coupal said as he looked at the display. “It brings people together. You’ve got the past, and you’ve got the present. You’ve got the old, and you’ve got the new. A lot of thought went into this.”

Village resident Lawrence I. Prashaw first proposed the idea of a community photo display in March and invited residents to submit photos of themselves or family members for it. A number of community groups, agencies and businesses, including the Massena Rotary Club, Massena Electric Department, St. Lawrence Glass, Triple A Lumber and village Department of Public Works, donated either funding, materials or in-kind services to construct it. MED, for example, donated utility poles to prop up the display.

“Nobody said no,” Mr. Prashaw said.

After Mr. Prashaw unveiled the display Wednesday morning, the crowd of about 30 community members gathered to look at the photos of their loved ones and of fellow community members from times gone by.

The display is part of an overall renewal of the park, which overlooks the Grasse River, Massena Power Canal and Alcoa plant. A series of new picnic benches and garbage cans has been installed, and upgraded lighting is now in place to better illuminate the park at night. The park had held summer concerts and was a nice spot in its heyday but had “gone to pot” in recent years, Mr. Prashaw said. He was glad to see its renewal.

“People are stopping, having lunch, reading a book,” Mr. Prashaw said.

Anyone who missed out on having a family photo included in the display this year will have additional chances in the future, Mr. Prashaw said. He expected to replace the current collage with a new one next summer, and will invite the community to submit photos again early next year.

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