PATCHOGUE, N.Y. (AP) — A seaside Long Island village on Saturday honored the memory of a girl whose message in a bottle was found after Superstorm Sandy, discovered by cleanup workers a dozen years after she tossed it into the ocean.
A plaque was placed on a rock near the bridge at Patchogue Long Island Beach Club, where the bottle was discovered in December. It reads: "Be excellent to yourself dude," the same message inside the bottle. The note, a line from the movie "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure," was written by Sidonie Fery and tossed into the ocean inside a ginger ale bottle. She died in 2010 at the age of 18 in fall from a cliff in Switzerland.
The bottle only traveled a mile or two westward from where it was likely deposited to the location where parks workers found it. It was intermingled with broken docks, boating gear and a spectrum of sea trash.
But because the note included the girl's New York City phone number, what otherwise would have been a worthless piece of trash became a priceless memento. Workers in Patchogue, about 60 miles east of Manhattan, called the number and returned the bottle to her mother, Mimi Fery.
Fery said she sobbed when she heard workers had found the bottle and was grateful to them.
"It's unbelievable," she said Saturday of the commemoration. "The town is amazing, my daughter was a lovely and lively person and very fun, she would do fun things. She always brought joy to everybody no matter how she felt."
Maria Giustizia, an employee with the Village of Patchogue Parks Department, said she thought the plaque would be a great tribute to the girl.
"We just love her so much and she has given her mom the best gift that any daughter could give," she said.
After the dedication ceremony family friends and workers in the village threw carnations into the water.
The plaque also reads: "I learned that even though someone is very small they may have a big heart" and bears a photo of a smiling, young Sidonie along with the date the bottle was found: Dec. 6, 2012.