New York’s Finest made the season merry and bright for a group of kids in Bayside.
Police officers from precincts throughout the city brought presents, song, dance, entertainment and joy to kids at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children on Dec. 14. The event began inside the lobby with a sing-along of Christmas favorites, presents and greetings.
Children and their families headed outside and braved the cold to enjoy an exciting NYPD helicopter flyover. Santa himself, donned in blue, pulled up in a NYPD Emergency Services Unit truck to greet the crowd.
Kids at the event were also introduced to NYPD horses and K-9 dogs and enjoyed visits from characters including Mr. Met, Islanders mascot Sparky the Dragon and Elsa and Olaf from the movie “Frozen.”
Police Commissioner James O’Neill also joined in on the festivities alongside Edwin Simpser, president and chief executive officer of the hospital.
“Just to see the joy on kids’ faces — I think it’s absolutely priceless,” O’Neill said.
The tradition was started by NYPD Detectives and couple Bernice and Terry Brienza five years ago. Since its inception, the annual event has grown to a tremendous size.
“We started this on three week’s notice the first time,” Terry Brienza said. “Every year after that, we decided we were going to improve on it.”
Reaching out to police communities in all five boroughs, the response was overwhelming, Brienza continued. The detective said it would be impossible to say exactly how many officers showed up to help or offered their services.
“For as long as I’m capable of doing this, I’m gonna continue to do this,” he said. “Even if it’s for one minute that I see them smiling, it’s a victory for me, because I know the challenges they face every single day … Using this job for something positive means a lot to me.”
St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children provides health and quality-of-life services for children with special needs and life-limiting conditions. It is the largest provider of long-term care for children with complex medical conditions in the state.
Check out a photo gallery of the joyful holiday celebration below.