Christmas means two things to the members of Verona Police P.B.A. Local 72: Getting Christmas trees to needy families and getting Christmas cheer out to special needs schools.
On Saturday December 10, 2011, the P.B.A. members held their third annual Christmas Tree Drive. Members bought trees and stands from Hillcrest Farms, loaded them into pickup trucks and delivered them to area families. That Police Officers Tim Banta and Robert Shafer above with (l-r) Sgt. Dan Greco, Hillcrest Farms owner Patrick A. Filoso, P.B.A. President John Kraus, P.B.A. Vice President Mike Barone, Police Officer Page Parsels and Hillcrest Farms owner Patrick Filoso Sr.
“A Christmas tree is a symbol of joy, holiday spirit, and above all, a symbol of hope. We wanted to give a little of that to a few people who needed it”, said Anthony Condorelli, who is the creator and founder of the event.
Earlier last week, on Wednesday December 7, P.B.A. members participated in their 32nd annual Costume Trip. Officers left their uniforms hanging neatly in their lockers for the day and instead put on the most cheerful, creative, and colorful costumes that they could find. They then visited numerous special needs schools throughout the county that care for children who are autistic, have cerebral palsy, or have Down syndrome. The event was created in 1979 by now-retired Lt. Fred Di Stefano, and still continues with the same strength and enthusiasm as it did when it began.
“The Costume Trip is something that we all look forward to each year. It is a chance for us to get together and brighten the spirits of these wonderful children during the holiday season”, said Police Officer Shafer, who now coordinates the event. That’s Sgt. Stephen DePoe as Panda Bear above, with (l-r) Police Officer Shafer as The Christmas Donkey, Police Officer Parsels, Mike Cocucci, Police Officer Banta as Woody, Police Officer Mike Barone, Sgt. Paul Watkins as Scooby, Police Officers Erin McGarrity and John Lecreux as Santa’s Elves and Police Officer Bill Frazee as Santa Claus.