Lehigh Valley

Should Allentown name a park after Andre Reed?

Should Allentown rename a park after Andre Reed?

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - One of Allentown's parks may be renamed for city native and NFL star Andre Reed, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.

The question is, which park?

At the end of Wednesday night's City Council meeting, council member Daryl Hendricks said he soon will be sponsoring a proposal to change the name of Irving Street Park in east Allentown to Andre Reed Park.

Hendricks said petitions are going out now to rename both East Washington Street, between Irving and Jerome streets, and Irving Street Park for Reed.

That block of East Washington runs between the park and Dieruff High School.

Born in Allentown in 1964, Reed is a 1982 graduate of Dieruff and was a quarterback on the high school's football team.

Hendricks said research determined Irving Street Park was named after Washington Irving, a 19th-century American author who wrote "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."

He indicated skepticism that descendents of the author will mind if the city changes the name of the park.

Council vice president Ray O'Connell said he has been involved in conversations about changing the name of that block of Washington Street to Andre Reed Way, but had not heard anything about also renaming Irving Street Park.

"He grew up on the south side," said O'Connell. "Wouldn't it be more appropriate if we look at renaming Roosevelt Park, which was a stone's throw from his house?"

O'Connell said he was just expressing his personal opinion and stressed he wasn't trying to be negative about what Hendricks said.

"Maybe we'll reconsider it," said Hendricks. "We'll talk about that. I'm certainly willing to change it."

Said council president Julio Guridy: "You guys figure out which park you want to name after Andre Reed. But something should be named after him, I agree."

Roosevelt Park is between South Filmore and South Woodward streets, about a block away from Roosevelt Elementary School, which is along Susquehanna Street. The school was named for President Theodore Roosevelt.

According to one biography, Calvin Reed, Andre's father, would set up races, calisthenics courses and other competitive events for his children and their friends at both Fountain and Roosevelt parks in the city.

Calvin Reed also was a coach who first got his sons – Andre, Dion and Tyrone -- involved in midget football.

Reed also attended Kutztown University, where his skill as a wide receiver on the football field brought him to the attention of NFL teams.

Said O'Connell: "Andre Reed was a pretty fair athlete at Dieruff, got a little bit better at Kutztown and got really, really darn good at Buffalo."

Reed played 15 seasons with the Buffalo Bills – from 1985 to 1999 --and was the most prolific receiver in that NFL team's history, according to the Hall of Fame.

He was selected to play in seven consecutive Pro Bowls (1989-1995). His final year in professional football was with the Washington Redskins in 2000.

Reed is one of only 287 people to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Hendricks said he wants to honor Reed because he has brought great fame and recognition to the Allentown area.

"It was indeed a proud moment for Allentown," agreed O'Connell.

Hendricks stressed that Reed gives back to the community, including by running a charity golf tournament that raises money for Boys and Girls Clubs in the Lehigh Valley.

He said Reed was a member of the Allentown Boys Club.

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