Park Named for Corey Cafagna

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015, 11:08 am
By: 
Sheila Taylor

Above: Corey Cafagna Park

There is a new park in the Glencairn neighborhood, behind Hannah Community Center. Well, okay, the green space at the intersection of Sunset Lane and Southlawn Avenue has always been there, and some people even knew it was a city park. But now the City of East Lansing has named it the Corey Cafagna Park. The park will soon have what people expect in a neighborhood park---benches, a flower planter, and an "official" name sign.

Corey was the son of Al and Beth Cafagna who have lived next to the park since 1972. He was a young man who coped valiantly with the fears, learning problems, and social challenges that often characterize autism. Yet he kept up with his schooling and participated fully in music at which he was (like the entire Cafagna family) unusually talented. He sang with the MSU Children's Choir, the Edgewood Church choir, and school choirs, and played trumpet and baritone in the East Lansing middle and high schools. He even marched in the ELHS Marching Band pre-game shows.

Corey found peace and comfort in his park. People in the neighborhood remember his glorious voice singing from among the huge oak trees there, winter or summer, daytime or evening. Neighbors petitioned and worked with the City of East Lansing to name the park in memory of Corey. And as City Council members noted when approving the name, the Park is also a tribute to Beth and Al Cafagna, who have worked tirelessly on behalf of parents who have autistic children or have lost a child, and who have contributed to the region in many other ways.

Now these neighbors are planning an event to dedicate the park at which everyone interested will be welcome. The date for this event is pending the placement of the benches and the sign.

The Cafagna family has given funds for one of the two benches that will be placed in the park. Neighbors and friends may help to raise the additional $2,000 for the second bench and plantings. Tax-deductible donations may be made to the City of East Lansing (please write “Corey Cafagna Park” on the check’s memo line), and mailed to East Lansing City Hall, attention Elaine Hardy, Parks, Rec. & Arts, 410 Abbot Rd., Rm. 211, East Lansing, MI 48823.

You can visit Corey Cafagna Park at any time. Take your children. Let them run around and shout, or sing loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear. This would be a fitting way to remember Corey Cafagna, a very special spirit in this park.

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