June 13, 2022
by WB King –
From making sure the ballparks are ready for game day, to ensuring Halloween parades and Easter egg hunts go without a hitch to opening our recreation and fitness center and community pool, among other fun initiatives like ice skating, Joe Arduino and his team at the Tarrytown Recreation department have always put The needs and expectations of the population first.
“All I know is to care about the customer and the customer is the taxpayer who wants the entertainment of his life, so we have housed the residents as best we can and treat them with the greatest respect,” said Arduino, who is formal. He stepped down as Tarrytown’s Superintendent of Recreation in April after 20 years of dedicated service.
Arduino said he first learned the importance of serving his community while working at his family’s restaurant, Arduino’s Off Broadway, which was operated at 25 Main Street from 1958 to 1978 by Arduino’s father and three uncles. Like his father, Joe, who passed away in 1993, and his mother, Rose, who turned 96 in October, Arduino has been living in Tarrytown for life.
“Between 14 and 18, I was moving tables, mopping floors, washing stove tops, stacking soda machines…all Schleb’s work,” he said, adding that he has five siblings. “What my father and uncles taught us is that when a customer comes in, you make sure they have a high quality experience. It sounds simple, but it’s a good lesson to learn.”
Audible at the line of scrimmage
A 1978 graduate of Sleepy Hollow High School, Arduino was an above-average student who excelled in sports, earning an all-county selection in baseball in 1977 and 1978. During that time period, his baseball skills earned him a tryout at an expansion major. Major League Baseball Team, Seattle Mariners.
As a kid, he played in little league and attended summer camp on some of the same grounds that he would later run. So, when Arduino was offered the position of Tarrytown’s Recreation Supervisor in 2002, he said “it was a dream come true.”
However, his career path had many twists and turns. His shot with the Seattle Mariners didn’t work out, so he attended Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts where he played baseball.
“My education in Springfield started out as a liberal arts focus, but in my sophomore year I decided to switch to community entertainment and unknowingly look back on the time I switched to my career change,” she says.
After graduating with a Community Recreation degree in 1982, Arduino got his first coaching job at Ossining High School located as the offensive coordinator for the football teams. He continued to apply for full-time recreational jobs in places such as Pelham and Mount Pleasant as well as in private therapeutic home recreational settings.
“All these job searches came to naught. I went on to coach football and then baseball. I actually got my first high school baseball job at my high school Sleepy Hollow,” he said. “At the time, I was a substitute teaching there and I really liked it, so I decided to do a master’s degree in education at then New Rochelle College.”
While Arduino was busy pursuing his master’s degree in teaching, he was made an unexpected offer.
In April 1985, I got my furlough. I got a call from the entertainment department at Greenberg for a potential entry-level job as an entertainment programming assistant. “This is where my entertainment career began.”
Arduino remained in that position until 1987 when he was hired as Recreation Supervisor for the City of White Plains, which he said was an important but short-lived experience.
“They called me back to Greenburg, and it was kind of flattering,” said Arduino, who served as Greenburgh’s director of parks and gardens from 1989 to 2000. Which piqued his interest.
“The town was offering its first paid recreational position in 2000. I was second and third in drive all these years, so I gave it a shot,” he said. “It didn’t pay much but I went in for the experience, and it turned out to be the best move I could have made because it got me ready for Tarrytown. I came home working in a profession that I really loved.”
More gas in the tank
Ardoino married Gene Nicol in 1987, and is a resident of “North Tarrytown”. The happy couple raised three children in Tarrytown: Tim, Emily, and Nick. And last year, he and Jen became serious to Peyton Jen and Joseph Gregory.
“I was always the owner of the restaurant as a kid,” said Arduino. “And I was the entertainment director for most of my kid’s life. So, it’s a somewhat similar experience for my child because a lot of people in town know me and maybe that helped them, like how my dad’s restaurant helped me.”
Arduino, 62, said he still feels like he has more to do. Immediately after his official retirement, for example, he took a two-week job driving a large city bus. Calling it a privilege, he said he has known many of these residents for years and is happy to help.
One of the aspects of living in Tarrytown that Arduino loves is the camaraderie of the community. He noted how grateful he was to all the dedicated employees of the Parks and Recreation Department whom he missed seeing every day. He also thanked the volunteer Tarrytown Parks and Recreation Advisory Board for their dedication to the city.
As Arduino is so forward looking, it’s not quite ready to fully embrace the retired lifestyle and is currently looking for new ways to provide the service.
“I have a feeling of being out there. I might go back to working in a restaurant, believe it or not. I have a friend who runs a restaurant in Hartsdale and could hire a manager,” he said. “I feel good, thank God, and I still have gas in the tank. I want to do a few more things before I really get my feet up.”
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