Kudla family wreath tradition continues at Yesterdays restaurant

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  • Photo by Roger Gavan Yesterday’s owner John Christison poses inside the Kudla family wreath.

  • Painting by artist Bruce Young of Vernon, N.J.

— Visitors to downtown Warwick this holiday season may have noticed that there is a huge wreath encircling the entire entrance to Yesterdays restaurant at 29 Main St.

It's actually the second year for this display.

The story behind that wreath begins with World War II veteran William Kudla, who past away last February, and has been kept alive by the Kudla family and William Kudla's daughter Darlene Kudla-Grasso, a bartender/waitress at Yesterdays.

After serving with the Marines in the Pacific Theater during World War II, Kudla married and then became the owner of a small floral supply business, where he made grave covers and wreaths in his garage during the holiday season.

'Our favorite part of Christmas Day'And in 1960, being proud of the new home he and his wife, Mary, had built, he decided to craft a giant wreath.

"Our favorite part of Christmas Day," said Kudla-Grasso, "was always the Kudla family photo inside the wreath."

Through the years, the family grew and the tradition continued until Kudla, getting up in age, found it harder to continue making the wreath and had passed that skill down to his children.

Treating employees and customers like family"Over the last few years," said Kudla-Grasso, "busy holiday schedules have kept the tradition at bay. As a new employee at Yesterdays, I was welcomed with open arms. John and Peggy Christison treat their employees and customers like family"

Kudla-Grasso decided last year that Yesterdays would be the perfect place to hang the family wreath and the tradition continues.

The Christisons have added to it by using the unique decoration to invite people to sponsor a wreath for a veteran's grave in the West Point Cemetery.

Earlier this year Kudla-Grasso sent a note to Terry Reilly, senior account executive of Straus News, publisher of The Warwick Advertiser.

"Local artist Bruce Young of Vernon, New Jersey," she said, "has honored my family with the most amazing artwork of Yesterdays wreath. After he found out my father passed away in February and knowing it was the last time dad would ever see it, he decided to draw the wreath and present the artwork to us.

"His work speaks for itself. It is extraordinary."

- Roger Gavan

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