2,000 celebrate 50th anniversary of Eastwood Mall
By BOB COUPLAND
NILES — William M. Cafaro and Edward J. DeBartolo were two visionaries who shared a dream to succeed and also pioneered an industry that changed the way people shop today.
That dream and hard work was celebrated Sunday evening as more than 2,000 people gathered to mark the 50th anniversary of the Eastwood Mall in Niles, which has provided shopping, dining and entertainment to generations of Mahoning Valley families.
Honoring the late 1960s when the Eastwood Mall opened on Sept. 17, 1969, to the present day, guests were treated to musical performances by impersonators of Bruce Springsteen, Madonna and Elvis Presley.
The gala included a large cake in the center of the mall, with panels showing the history of the complex over the years and a “Remembering the Founders” retrospective video played on several large screens.
William A. Cafaro and Anthony Cafaro Jr., co-presidents of the Cafaro Company, said their grandfather, William M. Cafaro, and Edward J. DeBartolo Sr., who founded the Southern Park Mall in Boardman, were pioneers in the shopping center industry.
“They changed the way people shop. They changed the way we are entertained. They even changed the way people interact. Even these two visionaries could never have predicted what the Eastwood Mall complex has become in the last 50 years. People are amazed at what this complex has become,” said William Cafaro.
Today, the mall complex encompasses over 3.3-million-square feet, with over 200 retailers, three hotels, two theaters, a church, a gym, an office building, and a baseball facility that houses the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.
“Without the hard work and dedication of all the employees, it would not have been possible for this complex to be the success it is today. A place to shop, dine and be entertained,” William Cafaro said.
Anthony Cafaro Jr. said for the past 50 years, people of the Mahoning Valley have made the Eastwood Mall a part of their lives. He said people remember their first dates at the mall, attending movies at the Twin Cinemas, riding the merry-go-round, buying a sofa at Goldsteins, or attending a game at Eastwood Field.
“The Eastwood Mall brings back many memories of childhood and days gone by. This is not just about the passing of years it is about what is coming for the future. In 2020, our most ambitious venture is the enterprise park with a new medical center and hospital to employ 2,200 professionals. This will serve as a catalyst and spur additional development in Niles, Warren and Howland,” he said.
City, county and state officials each presented proclamations recognizing the three generations of the Cafaro family, noting their success with the Eastwood Mall and what they have done for the benefit of the Mahoning Valley.
Niles Mayor Steve Mientkiwiecz said the Eastwood Mall is an economic draw to the Valley.
Congressman Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, said when he tells people across the state of the Mahoning Valley he includes “the great legacy built by the Cafaro family.”
Congressman Tim Ryan, D-Howland, said there is so much that the Cafaro and DeBartolo families have done for the Valley.
“Thank the Cafaro Company for believing in this Valley,” he said.
Anthony Cafaro Sr., retired president of the Cafaro Company, said the event celebrates the legacies of his father and DeBartolo and their hard work, great work ethic and dedication.
“These guys were workaholics. They did not know what the word ‘vacation’ meant. They were dedicated to their jobs,” he said.
Cafaro said even though his father and DeBartolo did not seek attention, “people gravitated to them. They were always the center of attention.”
“They were two visionaries who shared the dream to succeed. We celebrate their legacy tonight” he said.
A special toast was made to J.J. Cafaro, who thanked the public for all their support in the past 50 years to make the Eastwood Mall Complex the success it is today.
“We celebrate the past 50 years and look forward to the next 50 years.” he said.
Howland resident Bob Berk said it is great to see someone who has achieved such success share and celebrate with so many others.
“It’s amazing to see all the people here tonight to celebrate this great milestone,” Berk said.