The Glendale Kiwanis group held its annual community event in honor of essential workers and first responders on Saturday, Sept. 18, at the Shops at Atlas Park.
The group is a local branch of the national organization that seeks to serve the needs of children. Glendale Kiwanis has about 85 members, most of which are local businesses and business owners.
Bob Kueber has been organizing this event since he joined the group 15 years ago. Originally, the event started as a cookout 40 years ago, but in recent years moved to Atlas Park to honor local firefighters and police officers.
Kueber said that the tradition to honor local firefighters started in 2017, after William Tolley, from Ladder 135, died on duty after falling from the roof of a five-story building. From there, the group dedicated the event to other essential organizations, like the NYPD, and local veterans.
After the height of the pandemic, Kueber said those who were on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 should be recognized.
“The nurses, the hospitals, everyone that was fighting the pandemic, they should be honored,” Kueber said.
This year, the group honored Wyckoff Heights Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian for their work during the pandemic. Representatives from each hospital were given plaques from Glendale Kiwanis.
The day consisted of games for kids, giveaways, music from the NYPD band and food offered from Kiwanis and local vendors. There were different educational activities for kids, including a distracted driving simulator and anti-bullying booth. The event was open to everybody and free of charge.
Keuber said it was great to see so many members of the community come together since the COVID-19 pandemic kept so many people closed off from one another.
“It shows that the community is united,” Kueber said. “Getting together and realizing we are a community and that we all work together for the common good. People see that there’s people out in the community that care.”