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After 35 years at the Mystic Drawbridge house, Nick Distasio is retiring. He is originally from Brooklyn, NY and moved to New England in 1968 when his father’s job at the Brooklyn Navy Yard moved to Groton.
Nick’s time at the Mystic Drawbridge house has been an extremely fulfilling part of Nick’s life and he says, “I’ve had a lot of nice experiences with people in downtown and with the beautiful vessels that I’ve let through.”
Many unexpected people have sailed their vessels along the Mystic River including some well known celebrities. During his time working at the bridge, Nick has met some of these celebrities, including Billy Joel, Clint Eastwood and Steven Speilberg who were all enjoying some relaxing time on the Mystic River.
Those are not the only ones that Nick met over the years and he even joked that he had a, “Standing lunch,” at a catering truck with Julia Roberts while she was filming the movie Mystic Pizza. She told him how beautiful she thought Mystic was and that she was enjoying the time that she spent here.
Nick also had a small part in the movie and was shown working at the bridge house, but his scene was cut out.
“You’re your own boss,” says Nick, of working at the drawbridge house, which is part of what he really enjoyed about his job. Although he is retiring, he will continue to visit the bridge and plans on coming down to Mystic to see what work will be done on it next November.
The rehab of the bridge will be a tremendous project in which the State will restore Mystic’s drawbridge by repainting it, checking and replacing bolts and looking over the bridge for general maintenance.
Right now, the Department of Transportation does not have a replacement for Nick, but his friends, Rod Coleman and Bruce Sullivan, who also work at the bridge, will fill in for him until they find someone.
Nick had a small get together upstairs in the tiny drawbridge house with his friends and brother. They celebrated his time at the Drawbridge and his retirement. The celebration was complete with Mystic Pizza’a own pies and an assortment of doughnuts.
The friends spent time talking and making jokes on what was Nick’s last day at work.
Nick lives in Norwich, where he moved with his family when they first left Brooklyn in 1968.