A street-sized American Flag draped over Halstead Avenue greeted hundreds Friday morning as they made their way to pay final respects to Joseph Acocella.
It was the first of many signs that the Harrison community had rolled out all the stops for the man who during his short life.
The beloved town clerk at the age of 30 after a lifelong battle with the rare spine condition Lumbar Sacral Agenesis. He had also fought kidney and heart conditions.
Hundreds of people squeezed into for the funeral mass. Some stood near the doors, others in the entryway, anywhere close to be a part of the king-sized ceremony honoring the man who showed a lifetime's worth of determination during his life.
"The word can't wasn't in his vocabulary," said Acocella's sister Laura McCorry, who went on to explain Acocella's path from a high school wrestler to lifeguard to volunteer firefighter.
"Joey always figured it out and we always supported him in anything he wanted to do," she said.
Later in life McCorry explained that her brother entered politics with the sincere intention of making changes. He worked on the board of education for two years, where he was asked to advocate for other students with special needs in the district.
As town clerk he was instrumental in bringing a to Harrison. He was currently working on a "no-knock" policy to limit solicitors at private homes. At the time of his death he was preparing to run for re-election, and had no intention of stopping his political career there, McCorry said.
"He knew what his goals were in life, and let there be no mistake—being mayor of this town was on his list," McCorry said.
Halstead Avenue for several blocks all morning. Town hall until 12 p.m.
After the funeral, a 15-minute line of emergency vehicles escorted Acocella's casket away from Halstead Avenue for the final time. A group of town employees followed the hearse from the area.
Dozens of onlookers, firefighters and police officers offered a final salute on his way out.
"He will be truly missed but never forgotten," McCorry said. "He was a hero, and heroes are never forgotten."