Parker Pustejovsky, 4, has always wanted to be just like his dad.
His father, Joey Pustejovsky, volunteered with the West Volunteer Fire Department and helped organize fund-raisers — from tractor pulls to barbecues — for the department and other community causes. As city secretary, he also worked to get grant funding to renovate West City Park.
Joey Pustejovsky died in the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion while fighting the fire that caused it, but the memories of his dad’s civic involvement are likely what prompted Parker to come up with a fundraiser of his own, his grandparents said.
Parker told his grandparents, Joe
and Carolyn Pustejovsky, that he wanted to sell hot dogs to rebuild the city park. With help from the community, his idea will become reality Saturday afternoon.
The park is just blocks from the scene of the explosion and sustained major damage to its playground equipment, public restrooms, tennis courts and other amenities.
Officials still are trying to get an estimate of how much money rebuilding the park would cost, but Joe Pustejovsky said it doesn’t matter how much money the event makes if it brings the community together.
“You’d have to sell a lot of hot dogs to rebuild the park, but my wife and I asked (Parker) about selling hamburgers or T-shirts, and he said he wanted to sell hot dogs,” Joe Pustejovsky said.
Besides hot dogs, the benefit for Parker’s Park Project will feature chips, drinks and baked goods for sale, as well as a silent auction. Attendees can get a hot dog, chips and a drink for a $5 minimum donation.
Among the parties helping to organize the event is a group of people who grew up near the park and, like Parker, frequented it as children. The group, dubbed the Reagan Street Posse, has a special place in their hearts for the park, and for Parker, since his father was a member.
“We used the park’s lights at night to play baseball,” said Joey Kolar, a Reagan Street Posse member who grew up two doors down from Joey Pustejovsky. “And it wasn’t just us. The entire community was able to let their kids play there. The four light poles lit up the whole area. We’re devastated that it’s gone.”
Kolar set up the Facebook page for Parker’s Park Project, which already has more than 1,300 “likes.”
“It grew a lot quicker than we anticipated,” Kolar said. “The support has been unbelievable. This is an opportunity for us to rebuild together.”
Parker will be at the fundraiser Saturday helping serve the hot dogs. Joe Pustejovsky said it’s one way his grandson is keeping his father’s memory close.
“We always tell him, ‘Remember what your dad told you,’ ” he said. “The house his dad lived in had some damage (from the blast), but it has been repaired. He asks to see it every once in a while. He’s getting closure.”
If you go
When: 10:30 a.m.- 2p.m. Saturday
Where: Gazebo on City Hall lawn in West
Cost: $5 minimum donation
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