Photo: NBC News
In the New Jersey village of Ridgewood, Michael Feeney was a celebrity. He swapped campaign advice with the mayor. For a short time, he served as police chief. This Friday, he was to light the big Christmas tree downtown.
He was 10 years old.
Michael Feeney died last week after a four-year struggle with a rare and aggressive form of bone cancer. On Tuesday, the village honored him with a funeral with full police honors.
“He was just extraordinary,” the village mayor, Paul Aronsohn, told NBC News ahead of the service. “If you met him, you would know it. Big smile, big spirit. A big sense of the possible. He was a little guy, and he was just so big. Everything about him.”
At least 24 police departments were represented at the funeral. A bugle corps from the Bergen and New Jersey Transit police sounded a faint drumbeat to lead the procession into the church — friends, family and the casket, draped with an American flag. Eighty officers flanked the entrance.
“I lost a partner today,” the Ridgewood police chief, John Ward, told reporters.
Michael, who was in fifth grade at Hawes Elementary School, had a short life that was plagued with health problems, but they never managed to surmount what people close to him described as a relentless spirit….In Ridgewood, a village of about 25,000 people just across the Hudson River from New York City, Michael was to light the tree at a downtown celebration on Friday night, right alongside the Ridgewood High School marching band.
Thousands are still expected to gather on East Ridgewood Avenue for the celebration on Friday night. But on Tuesday, the village came together for a Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church to remember Michael. That included the police, to remember the youngest fallen member of the force.
“They’re lining up from different towns, motorcycles lining up,” the mayor said. “They’re going to shoot off the guns at the cemetery. The whole community’s come out. It’s a real testament to Michael, how he touched people’s lives.”
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him …