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In Nyack, a Gesture to Honor a Sept. 11 Hero

Residents plan to tie red bandanas around trees to honor Upper Nyack's Welles Crowther

Nyackers may notice a trend Tuesday—red bandanas tied around trees throughout the village. And for many, the meaning will be clear and powerful.

Tuesday marks the 11th anniversary of the tragic September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Nyack, Piermont and the surrounding villages were marred deeply by the act—along with the rest of county—but saw acts of valor and selflessness amid the terror.

Upper Nyack's Welles Crowther worked in the World Trade Center in 2001, just a few years out of Boston College and, before that, . When the planes hit, Crowther made multiple trips back into the towers, bringing others to safety—and saving at least one dozen lives.

During it all he donned a red bandana, now an iconic accessory in Nyack and throughout the United States.

Elaine Duddy, a Central Nyack resident who has called the hamlet home for almost a quarter-century, had the idea for "Red Bandanna Day" several months ago. She knows Crowther's saga, and wants to jump-start a tradition honoring him.

"It would represent all the Sept. 11th heroes in a special way," she said. "It's a symbol of heroism and courage."

"I'm just doing this because, at the bottom of my heat, I felt loss [that day]," Duddy continued. She worked at the Nyack School District the day of the attacks. Firefighter Dennis McHugh—who perished that day, and had the named in his honor—worked Duddy's paper route, and was later her son's basketball coach.

Duddy has launched a Facebook campaign to spread the word about "Red Bandanna Day."

"So far I'm getting really good responses," Duddy said. "And it's not just in Rockland—I have relatives in California [who will participate]."

When Alison Crowther, Welles' mother, first heard of Duddy's plan, she was touched.

"That's really amazing," she said. "It's so beautiful how people remember Welles."

Alison Crowther and Welles' father Jeff set up The Crowther Trust charity to honor their son, and several events and fundraisers are approaching.

Sept. 16 will be the , a free concert featuring musicians from the New York Philharmonic, New York Ballet and Metropolitan Opera. Donations are accepted; the event is slated for 5 p.m. at .

On the concert's heels is an Oct. 1 golf outing at Patriot Hills Country Club in Stony Point.

"It was a huge success last year, and we're hoping for it again this year," Allison Crowther said. "Anyone is welcome to come and participate—you don't have to be a golfer."

Tickets are $250 and include a day on the links, breakfast and lunch, and a chance at prizes including a $25,000 hole-in-one award (half goes to the golfer, half to the charity), a trip for two to Scotland and more.

The golf outing begins at 11 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. with a barbecue; residents can attend just the barbecue for $60.

Details on the golf outing can be found here, and more information on the Crowther Trust here.

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Residents interested in purchasing a red bandana can try AC Moore (165 Rockland Center, Nanuet) or .

Chris Heller September 07, 2012 at 11:14 AM
lovely idea - could you please post the link to the facebook page?
Barbara Noyes September 07, 2012 at 12:52 PM
There are people who haven't heard the story which makes it even more important because it demonstrates true bravery. People across the country have been very touched by the way Welles Crowther lived.
Brian Duddy September 07, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Great job Mom ! Here is a link to the facebook group - https://www.facebook.com/events/358065437602647/
Kevin Zawacki (Editor) September 07, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Thanks, Brian -- I'll add the link to the story.
Edward Growney September 07, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Elaine Duddy-what a nice way to remember the selfless heroism of Welles R. Crowther!
Alan Englander September 07, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Great job, Elaine!!! Welles Crowther will forever serve as the greatest source of inspiration for us all -- truly service above self. He will always live on in all us. What a wonderful way to show our support to him. Thanks once again for doing this.
Alison Crowther September 07, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Dear Elaine, Thank you for this beautiful gesture. Our entire family is deeply touched. With much appreciation, Alison Crowther Welles' mother
Elaine Duddy September 07, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Allson, I would love to speak with you in person about this. You riased such a wonderful human being and he and the the other heroes deserve a special place in all our hearts. Please contact me duddyel@hotmail.com at your convenience. Sincerely, Elaine Randell Duddy
Adele September 08, 2012 at 08:38 PM
I will be teaching the lesson that Vernoy wrote for the National 9/11 Museum in Welles' honor to my 7th graders. Last spring when I taught the lesson, I gave each of my students a red bandana. Some placed it in their backpacks; others carried it in their back pocket the rest of the year. For the lesson that she wrote....please visit http://www.911memorial.org/lesson-plans-6-8 Scroll down to the bottom of the page to "Individuals and 9/11" for the lesson as well as the powerpoint.
Elaine Duddy September 10, 2012 at 09:36 PM
You are so awesome to do this. We will be more mindful for next year and make sure they are readily available. Michael's did have some but probably they are sole out by now. I applaud your resourcefulness!
Elaine Duddy September 10, 2012 at 09:38 PM
People are staring to post pictures on facebook of their displays of bandanas including me. Go to Red Bandana Day event and check it out.
Elaine Duddy September 13, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Thanks to all of you who supported "Red Bandana Day." I am still keeping the event open so that people can get their pictures in and make more comments. I am hoping that it will be even more successful next year. If you are interested in helping spread the word go to facebook and then Red Bandana Day or contact me Elaine Randell Duddy. My email is duddyel@hotmail.com if you don't do facebook.

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