In 1990, two brothers, Lou and Derek Vincent, who grew up in the Port Chester Housing Authority's Weber Drive complex, decided to start a basketball tournament. They called it the Unity Day Basketball Tournament, and invited some of their friends and fellow community members to come participate.
Twenty years later, Unity Day is still around, only much, much bigger.
The Port Chester Housing Authority, in a joint effort with the Carver Center and a few other local organizations, hosted the 20th annual Unity Day Saturday afternoon, bringing together Housing Authority residents and community members for the annual basketball tournament, as well as a barbeque and jazz festival.
After holding the festivities at a Port Chester Housing Authority complex for the last couple of years, organizers decided to move this year's Unity Day celebrations to Columbus Park, where participants could take full advantage of the basketball and volley ball courts, the "spray park," as well as the gazebo and wide open spaces. Food was provided by Port Chester's Cousin Frankie's USA Grill, which served up burgers, hot dogs, chicken and corn on the cob to hundreds of hungry locals.
Saturday's basketball tournament featured teams competing in four different divisions, including one for 15 and under players, one for high school aged competitors, one for college aged competitors, and the grand finale, the "Legend Game," reserved for returning alumni of the inaugural Unity Day Basketball Tournament.
"The whole celebration has really caught fire and people look forward to it going on every year," said co-organizer Lou Vincent, who despite now living in North Carolina makes it a priority to attend the Unity Day festivities every year. "A lot of these people live or lived in the housing authority and this is one of the ways for them to give back to the community."
In attendance on Saturday afternoon was Port Chester Housing Authority Executive Director Daniel Colangelo Jr., who stressed not only the community nature of Unity Day, but also its function as a recognition event.
"Unity day is a good opportunity to bring the community together, and to recognize the residents of the 340 units of the Port Chester Housing Authority," said Colangelo, who has worked for the town Housing Authority for the last four years. "It's basketball and food, we'll have some speakers, recognize some people, and we're just thankful we have a nice day."
One person who received special recognition Saturday afternoon was Tina Foust, a life-long Port Chester resident and Housing Authority Board Member. Foust, who lives in a Housing Authority complex, received a proclamation from the Carver Center for her unrelenting dedication to the Port Chester community.
"She's been a real force behind what we've been trying to accomplish all these years with Unity Day," said event co-organizer Derek Vincent, who works at the Carver Center as a youth director. "She's always been involved in the community and we just want to tell her thank you for all these years. "
Also recognized were a number Port Chester High School graduates who received scholarships to colleges and universities.