INWOOD — Dozens of family and friends of the late Renee Mancino, owner of Carrot Top Pastries and beloved member of the community, gathered Saturday afternoon in the rain to honor her with a street renaming.
Mancino, who was found dead in her Washington Heights shop of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 2014, was officially recognized with a street-naming on 214th Street and Broadway after a brief pushback from the city last year.
Community organizer Martin Collins, who led the street-naming initiative for the family, said during the campaigning that the city council received more than 84 pages of testimony in support of “Renee Mancino Way,” which included comments and remarks from residents, nearly 1,200 signatures and a detailed biography of the 66-year-old, in addition to a resolution from Community Board 12 with in favor of the street co-naming.
“So many people are here today from Washington Heights and Inwood — and beyond — because of a ... deep affection for Renee Mancino,” Collins said Saturday. He added that Mancino's “participation in every aspect of community life for the past 40 years is recognized and honored here today.”
Mancino, Collins said, supported everything from little leagues, the Memorial Day Parade, the senior centers, particularly Riverstone Senior Center on Fort Washington Avenue, the local community board, fire department and Good Shepherd Church.
“Even though I never met Renee face-to-face, but through all the stories about this not only being a great business and great entrepreneur, but an individual and family that believe in supporting the community,” said Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, adding that “we have to co-name our streets after people who will never die.”
“It’s raining today, but we all know that water means life and we’re celebrating life,” said State Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa. “I’m from Uptown and I always talk about how much I love Uptown. If you’re from Uptown, you know what Carrot Top is to this community. It’s iconic and it’s iconic because of the people who have worked to make it that way.”
Macino’s daughter, Tan'yika Allen, who prefers to go by Nikki, said the event for the family was like reliving her mother's memorial service “all over again.”
“It’s a joyous event, because she’s being immortalized and that makes me very proud, but I also felt emotions coming back again that I was just getting over trying to deal with, because I haven’t really accepted the loss of my mom,” Allen said. “I just can’t accept that and I’m the only child, so me and my mom were very close.”
Allen, who grew up watching her mother from underneath the restaurant tables in Inwood, said she started working along her parents’ side when she was 15-years-old as a manager.
“I heard her one night, and she was crying because it was so much work, and from that day, I vowed that I was going to always help my mom,” said Allen, who now bakes for the family business.
Bob Mancino, Renee's husband, choked back sobs at the ceremony.
“I miss her so much. The best day of my life was when I met my wife. Baby, this is for you my love."