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Celtic Park Co-op Owners Unsure about Commemorating Park

December 16, 2009 A plan to commemorate the Irish-American Athletic Club is meeting stiff resistance from people who live at the site of its former stadium in Queens.

Club members won 53 medals at Olympic Games held in the early 20th century, but when the I-AAC went into decline after the World War I., its headquarters Celtic Park gave way to a 750-unit apartment complex of the same name.

Now, some of the complex’s co-op board members feel that the I-AAC’s symbol is more evocative of the Black Power protest at the 1968 games than sepia-toned athletes of another era. One even likened the clenched fist – which, along with eagles, shamrocks and American flags, is part of the original logo – to a swastika.
Ian McGowan, who founded the Winged Fist Organization to commemorate the club, has countered that the clenched or raised fist is a mainstream symbol that is widely used in a variety of contexts, some of them commercial. A Celtic Park resident himself, he approached the co-op board in 2007 with the idea of a plaque honoring the achievements of the I-AAC.

“They had no objection in principle, as long as they didn’t have to come up with the funding or the design,” McGowan recalled.

When in 2008, he submitted a first-draft text and design, which included the winged fist symbol, the board objected to a reference to the Long Island City Star newspaper. (The apartment complex was once part of the greater Long Island City area and is now in the Woodside postal district.) He resubmitted an amended text and design earlier this year, but then board members raised their concerns about the I-AAA’s symbol.

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