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    Photo: Xavier Mascareñas/The Journal News
    Written by: ROBERT MARCHANT


    CARMEL — Barbecue and pizza, a blues band, pool time, family games and a helicopter flyover — it all added up to a big friendly pat on the back to hundreds of local volunteers and veterans.

    The First Responders Appreciation Event brought as many as a thousand people for a celebration of public service and day of summer fun. Organized by state Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, and sponsored by area merchants who donated their services, the gathering brought out a wide variety of people who had one thing in common — they put on uniforms to help others when emergencies strike.

    “It’s nice to get recognition sometimes — and a pulled pork sandwich,” said David Trigliano, a Mahopac Fire Department volunteer. “Can’t beat that,” added his wife, Colleen, also a fire department volunteer.

    A few tables away, Denise Albertson, a Garrison EMT, was enjoying lunch with her family and surveying a number of activities open to kids.

    “It’s a great day for kids,” she said. “And a thank-you is always appreciated.”

    Ball said he hoped the event would turn into an annual tradition. Besides his legislative duties, he said one of his top goals was to gain public understanding and appreciation for people who do the difficult and often-traumatic work in the emergency services, as well as the armed services.

    “We wanted to show appreciation for vets and first responders. At a time when less than one percent are serving, carrying the weight for the rest of us, they need our support. All these folks have thankless jobs,” he said. Ball, who held a Thanksgiving meal last year as part of his recognition of volunteers and vets, said, “This is part of the job I like the most, it’s what makes it worth it.”

    With donated services and goods, no funds from the Legislature or taxpayers were used. Camp Kiwi donated its facilities.

    Rich Parente, a partner of 151 Bar and Grill, which specializes in “comfort food” and barbecue in Brewster and Mahopac, woke up at 4 a.m. to start slow-roasting a large pig over a wood flame. He sliced up succulent pieces of his work for an appreciative crowd.

    “It’s for a good cause. And I like to get out from the four walls, get away from fluorescent lighting and meet some good people,” he said. (ARTICLE)