PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- You can take a person out of Peekskill, but you can't take Peekskill out of the person.
Every year, Rich and Eileen Baisley, former Peekskill High School graduates, host an annual reunion of former Peekskill residents in Jupiter, Fla. This year, the reunion is taking place in Carlin Park in Jupiter on Feb. 19.
The reunion, which goes from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., has been going on for 28 years and last year more than 150 former Peekskillians were in attendance. In 2010, 232 people came out to celebrate what the Baisley's have dubbed "Peekskill Day." The event is usually passed around by word of mouth and on the Peekskill High School alumni page.
"I've always kept in touch with Peekskill," said Rich Baisley, who moved from the area to Florida 45 years ago. "People will spend a week in Florida, and make sure to come to Peekskill Day. We get all kinds of people."
Baisley was the town mailman when he was in Peekskill as well as a volunteer firefighter with the Columbia engine fire company.
"Everybody in town thought I was crazy for moving to Florida," Baisley said. "They said Florida was full of swamps and bugs. It was hard leaving here but we did pretty well. The Mayor of Peekskill even gave me a plaque."
Baisley later became a police officer in Florida before retiring as a mailman while his wife worked as a schoolteacher. His epiphany came on a February day when he was delivering mail in freezing cold weather during a snowstorm.
"By May we were living in Florida," Baisley said. "It was hard to leave. My wife and I were both born in Peekskill Hospital; we were delivered by the same doctor. Peekskill is still our hometown. We've never lost touch with people."
Baisley tries to return to Peekskill as often as he can, marching in fire parades and attending class reunions.
"It's hard for me to go downtown without running into somebody," he said. "It's amazing, if you get a group of people together, somebody has always heard of Peekskill."
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