The Beacon community gathered at the river to celebrate and honor Pete and Toshi Seeger’s many contributions to the community, and the re-naming of Riverfront Park to Pete and Toshi Seeger Riverfront Park. A new sign was unveiled and many dignitaries spoke at the ceremony held at the Beacon Sloop Club’s annual Strawberry Festival on June 15, 2014.
Remarks by Peter Gross, Clearwater Executive Director:
Pete and Toshi Seeger are true World Treasures, internationally respected and beloved for their steadfastness in speaking out for what is right, for their wisdom, for their warmth, their inclusiveness, their down-to-earth openness, their unceasing messages of peace, their love of expression in art, music and song, their dedication to nature and our planet’s health and their abiding concern and kinship with all people, especially the marginalized and oppressed. We at Clearwater are now the stewards not only of that beautiful sloop Pete and a group of music-loving activist friends built and sailed, but more widely we recognize we have a responsibility to perpetuate the values it expresses to people around the globe. Clearwater is proud to serve as an important part of carrying that legacy onward.
One part of Pete and Toshi’s legacy is thinking globally and acting locally. And while their scope and impact does extend globally, Beacon more than any other place on Earth, is where Pete and Toshi were local and acted locally. Right here on the banks of the Hudson River. It was in Beacon that they lived, where they walked the streets and participated in parades and festivals. It was at the Sloop Club over there that everyone who wanted to join in often sang along with Pete, where a mural by Toshi fills a wall. It was at the Strawberry Festival that Toshi so often whipped cream and served the famous shortcake some of you enjoyed today. It was this very site that they worked to transform what had been a dump into this beautiful Riverside Park. How wonderful for Beacon to celebrate its being their home. How fitting to name this site – on the banks of the river they so loved – in their memory, to celebrate and remind generations to come of these two extraordinary people who lived in this city.
As Beacon dedicates this park their memory, so may each of us dedicate ourselves to creating the world and living the life they taught us to strive for.
Some background on the park:
The all-volunteer Sloop Club was formed in 1969 when the park was an abandoned dump, raw sewage was being discharged into the harbor, and the waterfront was a tangled mess of abandoned docks and buildings. Early Strawberry Fesitvals were held on rugs to protect feet from the broken glass.
Pete told me many times that the creation of the park was not his doing , that it was due to the persistence of the teenagers in the club who finally succeeded in getting the project started after four years of petition drives. Some of those teenagers are still active with club. We all know that Pete and Toshi were the inspiration and model for their dedication. I know they were proud of the accomplishment and often used the park as an example
of people power on a local scale. It was common to see Pete walking around the park, picking up trash and telling people about its history. – Thanks to Alan Thomas