Ralph de Falco joined the pack on his 12th birthday in 1940, and even after serving in World War II after turning 18 in 1946, he never left the group of friends and companions in the Scouts.
Now on the troop’s 100th anniversary celebration coming up on Saturday, August 9, at the Queens Botanical Garden, current and former scouts are invited to remember and celebrate their involvement and life lessons learned.
De Falco, a former scoutmaster of Troop 17, sent out 966 letters to the some 1,600 alumni of the troop, which includes current U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
“About 250 we haven’t located and 350 have passed away,” de Falco said. “So far we are up to about 100 people attending, and although it doesn’t sound like a whole lot, these people are all over the place and some have to drive miles to get here.”
Once they arrive at the celebration next weekend, scouts and those interested in the group are invited to take part in a series of demonstrations like rock climbing, land navigation and camping.
Younger scouts can also take a look at displays of camping gear through the generations that Troop 17 gathered from more than a half century.
Bob Williamson is 75 years old and recalls joining Troop 17 when he was 15.
“Ralph’s troop was across the block from my troop, and he was having more fun,” Williamson recalled.
With the celebration just around the corner, the longtime scout and also former scoutmaster said he too found a home with the group and looks forward to celebrating with his peers and former charges.
At the end of the day, he said he hopes the wide range of events will get a new generation interested in scouting and prolong the life of Troop 17.
“As it turned out, we don’t have many troops participating since a lot of families have gone away on vacation and a couple of the troops are at camp that week, but we have a dedicated troop here and we are looking forward to it,” Williamson said.
Troop 17's 100th Anniversary Celebration is scheduled for Saturday, August 9, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Queens Botanical Garden. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors, and $2 for students and children). All scouts in uniform will receive a patch for participating in events.