2014-08-08 / Community

Steve Belson Remembered With Memorial Festival

By Dan Guarino

It may be 13 years since Steve Belson is gone, but he is not forgotten in Rockaway. Although firefighter Belson answered the last call on the morning of September 11, 2001, his life is still celebrated with the ocean swim, music festival and scholarship fund which bear his name.

On Saturday, Aug. 9, the 13th Annual Steve Belson Memorial Ocean Swim and Music Festival will kickoff. All proceeds will go to the Steve Belson Memorial Scholarship.

Belson, also known as “Bells,” was an avid surfer and a Rockaway lifeguard for 10 years. The street sign at Beach 92nd Street notes it as “Bell’s Beach.”

As explained on Belsonswim.blog spot.com, the Belson Memorial Scholarship “college assistance fund was established to provide aid to lifeguards who work anywhere on the Rockaway Peninsula and are currently attending college.”

“The fund will grant $1000 college incentives awards this year.”

Lifeguards working in Rockaway and attending college can apply at belsonmemorial.blogspot.com.

The ocean swim part of Saturday’s event will start at 10 a.m. on the beach at Beach 92nd Street.

Festivities move over to the bay side with live music and fun at the Bungalow Bar and Restaurant, located on Beach 92nd Street and Beach Channel Drive, behind McDonalds.

Featured will be versatile and talented Rockaway musician Guy Nevirs and Squid plus powerhouse rockabilly band The Lustre Kings with John Tichy. Music starts at 6 p.m.

All proceeds will go to the scholarship fund.

Belson had seriously injured his back and was recovering from spinal surgery in 2001, but had accepted a lighter duty assignment to keep doing the job he loved with the FDNY. He was working as an aide to Battalion Chief Orio J. Palmer, when the Twin Towers were attacked. As the New York Times put it, “Both rushed to the World Trade Center on September 11; neither returned.”

When last heard from, Belson had reached the 40th floor, racing to get to those who were trapped. Then he and the others were gone.

On Saturday, “Bells” and his deep connection to Rockaway will be remembered once again.

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