It all began with a call from my mother around 3:30PM today. A cat was stuck in a tree — 5 stories high right in front of her window.
Penelope the cat had been up there for over 24 hours. Calls to animal control and the New York City Fire Department yielded no results for the residents of Christopher Court in Melrose who had been calling for help.
On my way over to my childhood home, I stopped by Engine 41 and asked for help. They told me that they didn’t have the right equipment for it due to how high the cat was up on the tree. So they did the next best thing and called the dispatcher and asked for a tower ladder in the area to come over and check it out. That’s when Tower Ladder 44 arrived. Unfortunately Captain Luisi immediately dismissed the situation and said they couldn’t help and just kept moving. I had explained that I do know that such an incident is extremely low on their priorities and even begged that they at least try but they wouldn’t as so much stop fully and kept on moving.
After I told the residents of Christopher Court what they fire department said and watched their faces in disappointment, Ladder 44 appeared at the rear of Christopher Court and once again was told by Captain Luisi that, “…they couldn’t enter the property because the trees would damage their multimillion dollar truck.” Meanwhile, the paths in Christopher Court’s courtyard are very wide and the tree branches have all been pruned up to 3 stories.
Immediately upon arriving at my old home, my mother and I got to work and began duct taping together curtain rods, broomsticks and pretty much anything we could find. We made a makeshift basket at the end of pole to try and encourage the cat to get in but alas, the pole wasn’t long enough nor was it sufficiently sturdy. Penelope was at least 20 feet away making a rescue attempt from my mother’s bedroom window impossible.
Meanwhile, Precious Modesto, 32 and owner of Penelope was under the tree with her husband, Paul Modesto and their 3 children, Precious, age 10, Paris, age 7, and Paul, age 5, with outstretched blankets to catch the cat just in case she fell out of the tree.
That’s when Baron Ambrosia, the Bronx’s own culinary ambassador responded to my picture of Penelope and asked, “Is that cat still up in that tree? If so, I can go get it.”
I told him that she was still up there and stuck up very high and the Baron responded by simply saying, “I can climb anything.” This is, after all, the first man in recorded history to ever swim the length of the Bronx River from the Westchester County border down into the shores of the East River where it ends.
In less than 30 minutes, Baron Ambrosia arrived onto the scene and got to work setting up the ladder to begin his ascent up the tree. The crowd, both children and adults alike, cheered him on and asking him to be very careful. The Baron gave me his cell phone and put his wife’s number on speed dial for me, “In case anything happened.”
Once The Baron took a few minutes and circled the tree, assessing its branches and the cats location, he swiftly began his climb. In just a few minutes he was already up about 35 feet in the air and that’s when the cat began to sway. We immediately got all the blankets and placed ourselves underneath the cat and asked the Baron to shake the tree and that’s when then Penelope dropped 5 stories and more than 50 feet safely into the blanket and right into the safety of her owner’s arms.
After we made sure The Baron got safely down, everyone came over and shook hands and hugged him, thanking him for rescuing the Penelope who had all the residents worried especially her family.
It’s stories like these that shows what The Bronx is truly about. We come together and help each other in times of need, no matter where we’re from. The residents of Christopher Court are a very tight-knit group always looking out for each other so it was no less than amazing and beautiful that Baron Ambrosia selflessly took time from what he was doing and came over to help strangers in need.
Penelope the cat as well as Precious and her husband Paul and the kids, along with the residents of Christopher Court thank Baron Ambrosia from the bottom of their hearts.
Here’s looking at you, Baron for being the quintessential champion of the underdogs in everything you do. Thank you from the bottom of my heart too.
Former resident Carolina Perez, who was visiting her parents, captured the daring rescue on video:
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