By Tracy Porpora Staten Island Advance
Last Thursday, before anyone could imagine the destruction Hurricane Sandy would cause, Wendy Pellegrino decorated Angel’s Circle — a 9/11 Memorial in Grasmere — by placing red, yellow, orange and purple silk florals on top of the lush bushes that line the monument. She also gently hung vines of fall-colored leaves around the wrought iron fence that encloses the memorial.
“On Thursday I was there with someone who lost their son in 9/11, and we decorated with bunches of silk flowers. Normally, I stick them in the ground, but the ground was too hard so we stuck a bunch of flowers on the hedges,” said Ms. Pellegrino, founder of Angel’s Circle and a Staten Island Advance Woman of Achievement. “You could pull them off with a feather. Then we also put leaves on the fence.”
On Friday, Ms. Pellegrino heard news of the pending storm. “I thought to myself, ‘Oh no, everything will blow away for sure. I should have waited until after the storm to decorate.'”
On Monday into Tuesday Hurricane Sandy ripped through the borough; whipping winds knocked down trees, uprooted utility poles, and destroyed much of that which stood in her path. However, Angel’s Circle and all the florals Ms. Pellegrino had put there, were left completely intact.
“How could that be? The wind was unbelievable,” said Ms. Pellegrino, who formerly lived adjacent to the site, but recently moved to Middletown, N.J. “Before the storm, I called one of my old neighbors and asked her to keep an eye on Angel’s Circle. I was concerned the flagpole or monuments would come down, or the pictures (of the 9/11 victims) would blow away. But when I called my neighbor after the storm, she said, ‘nothing was touched. It’s as if there was an invisible shield that was over it and saved it.'”
While Ms. Pellegrino had feared the site would be destroyed, she is ‘beyond amazed’ that Angel’s Circle has remained unscathed throughout the hurricane. “I have always felt that Angel’s Circle is being guarded by those ‘angels’ ( The 9/11 victims it memorializes). Even when I’ve had 9/11 ceremonies there and it was raining and windy, the bad weather would stop for the time when the ceremony was taking place.”