Late Riverhead Man To Be Honored With Tug-Of-War Challenge In North Sea

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Friends and family of former Riverhead resident Declan Boland still remember the pure vivaciousness and kind-hearted nature of the man, who was killed in a work accident earlier this year.That is why, seven months after his death at East Coast Mines Ltd. in East Quogue, friends have organized a family day in North Sea to memorialize Mr. Boland and benefit his family.

The event, which is scheduled for October 4 at the North Sea Firehouse, will feature the first of what organizers hope will be an annual tug-of-war, with 20 local teams coming together to see who has the strongest team on the East End. Winners will leave with a year’s worth of bragging rights.

“Back when Declan passed away, many people started asking me, ‘Are we going to do something to help the family?’” family friend Declan Blackmore said. “I thought about it and came up with this idea of a tug-of-war challenge, because people have done golf outings and wore that out. We decided to do something different—a tug-of-war involving local companies to compete against each other.”

Mr. Boland came to the United States from Ireland in 1985 while working for a company that sent him to Kentucky. In 1987, he moved to New York, where he became the head mechanic at East Coast Mines.

In 2003, Mr. Boland married his wife, Ashley, and together the pair moved to Riverhead and had three children, Renee, 7, Anthony, 4, and Liam, 1.

Mr. Boland, who was 50 at the time of death, was killed on February 28 at work when a large pile of soil he was standing on collapsed beneath him, burying him under several feet of dirt and mulch.

Now, his family remembers him for the good-natured man that he was, with his brother, Aidan Boland, saying he was always willing to help other people without expecting anything in return.

“He was just friendly,” Mr. Boland said. “He was a very good-natured and kind guy who would always rather see everybody else doing well more than himself.”

Mr. Boland was also a family man, his brother added, saying how much he had loved his three children and would do anything for them. Often, Mr. Boland said, his brother would bring the kids to work to show them off and spend time with them.

“He was a good brother and father,” Mr. Boland added. “There is not a lot more you can say about him.”

While it has been hard on the family since Mr. Boland died, Mr. Blackmore and Mr. Boland say they hope the event on October 4 can be a happy time where those in attendance can celebrate the life of such a unique individual.

The tournament will feature 20 teams composed of 10 people. During each round, teams will be allowed a maximum of six men and two women on the field of battle, with a combined weight maximum of 1,500 pounds. Teams will have to pull their opponents a total of 6 feet to win the heat, and if a winner has not been decided after 10 minutes, play will be stopped and a judge will determine who is closest to the goal.

When looking to create the teams, Mr. Blackmore said it was easy to find volunteers, as most of the local excavation, landscape and masonry companies were happy to contribute to the cause. The event will feature teams—each paying a $2,500 entry fee—from Bistrian Materials, Butch Payne Excavation, Delamere Building Corporation, East Coast Mines, Farrell Building and Summerhill Landscapes Inc., among others.

“A lot of these companies knew Declan,” Mr. Blackmore said. “They will all get to compete and we will have one winner who gets a large trophy and bragging rights to go around telling everyone they are the toughest and strongest on the East End.”

Mr. Declan and Mr. Blackmore are hoping to draw a large crowd for the event. The challenge will start at 1 p.m. at the North Sea Firehouse, and there will be food and drinks, as well as kids’ activities like face painting, arts and crafts, two bounce castles and a playground.

“It is going to be fun,” Mr. Blackmore said. “You will have a lot of people there wanting to win.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation can write a check payable to St. John’s Church, the Declan Boland Fund, and send it to John Larkin CPA, c/o Markowitz, Fenelon & Bank, LLP, 78 White Street, Southampton, NY 11968. All donations are tax-deductible, and 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit the Boland family. The event is free to attend and open to the public.

“He was selfless and a giver who could fix anything,” Mr. Blackmore said. “He was the kind of guy that no one would say anything bad about. He was a truly special one.”

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