Mobsters in Washingtonville
By Eugenia Moskowitz
Martin Scorsese filmed a short 30-second scene at Weir’s Ice Cream stand on Oct. 13 for his upcoming movie The Irishman starring Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, Joe Pesci, and Ray Romano. The scene was rumored by the set technicians, who had been building the mini-golf set all week prior, to be a “touching self-reflective moment among the mobsters.” While the set was open to visitors as it was being built, the day the director and actors arrived was a different story given the fame of the cast and the film’s eccentric director.
Blooming Grove Police Department and State Police officers kept the Weir’s location secure while Washingtonville Police Department officers kept the staging area at the Knights of Columbus on Hallock Drive, where the actors’ trailers, makeup trailers, and food tables were, safe from unwanted visitors. Route 94 by Weir’s was closed to traffic from about noon to evening (with a reroute along Highview and Lynmore Drives) as the 1940s scene couldn’t have modern traffic, noise, or unwanted visitors going by.
While I did not attempt to get anywhere near the Hallock Drive area, I did manage to pop into Weir’s at around 11:00 a.m. and had just said hi to BGPD Officer Graziano and Washingtonville Mayor Joe Bucco when the set manager came over and kindly asked me to leave. The press is a threat to everyone’s safety, she said, as images put on social media showing locations draw unstable people from far away to stalk and menace the actors.
Bucco, who spent the day on the set, said the movie had a $150 million budget, which explained the amount of manpower spent on this 30-second scene. “One hundred and fifty people were working just on that day alone,” he said, “and every one of them was busy doing something, all day long. Not to mention the entire week prior.” Bucco shared his thoughts from that day: “Scorsese came out in a strange hat and one white glove on his hand and told me and everyone else to put our cell phones away, no pictures, as the old cars kept riding back and forth on 94 for the scene’s background. Close to 20 classic cars came in on big trucks, as well as truck after truck after truck with lights, cameras, equipment, people.” Bright yellow signs with arrows zip-tied to street signs directed trucks off the highway, up Route 208, and along Route 94 to the staging area at the Knights of Columbus and to Weir’s. “There was a big grilled food spread at the K of C where huge trailers housed the actors and director. I briefly greeted Al Pacino, who said, ‘How ya doin’ guys.’ I come from New Jersey, where mobsters have been known to exist, and, while not really on my bucket list, seeing a scene filmed with these iconic actors of Italian descent was, well…an interesting day, to say the least.”
Over at the staging area on Hallock Drive, Washingtonville Police Department Chief Brian Zaccaro and Sergeant Frank Cirigliano said Robert DeNiro was friendly and kind, and happily, no one tried to get near the famous actors, police said. (Rumor has it that Sgt. Cirigliano sat in the makeup chair as a goof, but no photos of this incident have yet surfaced.)
Filming went on through the evening and into the night. Tia Coleman, whose house sits across from Weir’s, said a classic car was parked in her driveway between takes, while the owners of the house beside Weir’s sat in lawn chairs with binoculars, enjoying the day. By Saturday afternoon, the K of C parking lot was empty, and the mini-golf set at Weir’s was dismantled and taken away. And just like that, Washingtonville was back to normal, with people driving freely along Route 94.
Robert DeNiro (center, in mobster clothes) asked if he could have his picture taken with Washingtonville Police Department Sergeant Frank Cirigliano (left) and Chief Brian Zaccaro (right), who kindly complied. (Photo provided)