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Ziggy’s Way is designated in honor of ‘Unofficial Mayor of Polish Town’

Family members say that Ziggy Wilinski’s greatest passion was spending time with his grandchildren, Adam and Austin.

So it was fitting that when a sign designating part of Marcy Avenue as “Ziggy’s Way” failed to open when a string was pulled, as planned, it was 6-year-old Austin who came to the rescue. He sat on his father, Mark’s, shoulders and pulled the cover off the sign by hand. 

A number of relatives and elected officials were on hand Saturday for a ceremony renaming part of Marcy Avenue as “Ziggy’s Way.”

The renaming of Marcy Avenue runs from its intersections with Main Street and with Pulaski Street, and including Polish Hall. 

Mr. Wilinski, who died March 9 at the age of 74, was a longtime president and manager of Polish Hall and a former Riverhead postmaster as well, among other things. He also served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971 and was a 1964 graduate of Riverhead High School. 

“The first thing that comes to mind is Mom and Dad,” Ziggy’s brother Roman said Saturday. “They passed away in 2003 and 2005 and I’m sure they’re smiling down. For a kid who came to this country in 1951, to get a dedication on the street, they are probably overwhelmed. I am overwhelmed and touched.”

Roman Wilinski said his older brother loved Polish Town.

“He grew up in Riverhead obviously and to get this designation from the town is overwhelming. It really is. It’s also appropriate that to reveal the sign, his grandson had to go on Mark’s shoulders in order to peel the sign.” 

Among those present Saturday were Ziggy’s wife of 49 years, Wanda; his son Mark and daughter, Michelle; his brother Roman and sister Barbara Kolpak, and his two grandchildren, Adam and Austin.

The entire Riverhead Town Board also was present, as was County Legislator Al Krupski and state Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio. 

Roman Wilinski said that from now on, “when people ask where Polish Hall is, you can just say, ‘look for Ziggy’s Way.’ ”

“We referred to Ziggy as the unofficial mayor of Polish town,” said Councilman Tim Hubbard. “That’s really what he was.”