HARRISON, N.Y. - Harrison residents paused Monday in the middle of what was planned to be a fun-for-all festival to remember one of their own. Late Town Clerk Joe Acocella Jr. was named Harrison's citizen of the year during the "It's Great to Live in Harrison" festivities and his family accepted the award on his behalf.
"This community should be proud of what Joey did throughout his life," sister Laura Acocella said, while fighting back tears. "We really miss Joseph and we hope you all remember him and carry out his mission."
The entire Acocella family sported Donate Life T-shirts in promotion of the organization that the late clerk heavily advocated for.
Acocella died Aug. 8 at 30-years-old from medical complications. He was awaiting a kidney transplant at the time of his death.
His death left a large impression on the community. The town honored Acocella after his passing by closing parts of Halstead Avenue in downtown Harrison for his funeral procession.
"Joey lived for this town," Harrison Recreation Superintendent Gerry Salvo said. "That's what this weekend is all about."
Acocella, born July 14, 1981, became the youngest clerk in New York State when he was elected in 2007. Acocella was running for re-election when he died. His medical ailments included kidney problems, but were also related to his Lumbar Sacral Agenesis, which led to the amputation of both his legs at three years old.
During his life, Acocella served as the town clerk, worked on the Harrison School Board and spent time as a volunteer firefighter.