Ice Cream Girl Battled City Hall For Dad’s Street Co-Naming

Ice Cream Girl Battled City Hall For Dad’s Street Co-Naming
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Maria and Chubby Campanella (Source: theicecreamgirl.com)

The street co-naming ceremony for Angelo “Chubby” Campanella last Sunday capped off a quiet, 5-year battle in which Maria “the Ice Cream Girl” Campanella beat back City Hall smugness to get her dad remembered.

The fight for the new sign at 21st Avenue and 77th Street was chronicled this morning by the Daily Beast’s Michael Daly:

When Maria began her campaign back in 2009 … the city insisted that such honors are reserved for people like the firefighters and cops who perished in the 9/11 attacks. Maria suggested that there are other kinds of heroes, including a man who dedicated his life to his family and his neighborhood and made himself part of the fabric of the community where he lived. And a man who then demonstrated that a wheelchair can be a chariot.

Chubby’s brand of of working class heroism is worth recognizing in a blue-collar stronghold like Bensonhurst, Campanella argued. The father and daughter became a team when he began taking her on his route to keep her out of trouble. He instilled pride and confidence in her, and taught her compassion for those in need. Together, they spread goodwill throughout the neighborhood – be it through making sure every kid got ice cream even when they couldn’t afford it, or chasing down hit-and-run drivers while working the route.

A number of elected officials, including City Council Member David Greenfield, City Council Member Mark Treyger, former City Council Member Domenic Recchia, and state Sen. Marty Golden, agreed. They joined the fight.
“It’s like the canonization of a saint these days to get a block named,” one of the officials notes.
Maria and her allies kept pushing. The final hurdle was a longtime city policy against nicknames in street signs.
“I said, ‘You got to put in ‘Chubby,’” Greenfield recalls. “They said, ‘Why?’ I said, “Or nobody’s going to know who is it is.’”

The article also touches on the continuing struggles the ice cream truck industry faces, including the “chaotic… incursion of Russian and Middle Eastern immigrants who interpreted freedom in America to include selling ice cream wherever your truck takes you.”

We’ve got a feeling Campanella isn’t so worried about that, knowing that her ice cream is made all the more sweet with a hefty dose of love for the neighborhood she patrols.

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