Gala Firemen's Parade, Block Party Coming to Mineola

Mineola FD to Host Festivities in Honor of Incoming President July 6-9

By Joe Rizza

The DeStefano family has had a long history in the Mineola Fire Department, dating back to the 1920s. Ex-chief of the department Mike DeStefano has upheld that tradition of community service through his dedication to fire services in Mineola. While DeStefano still frequently responds to the scenes of calls in Mineola, he recently assumed another responsibility of great responsibility as an advocate for fire services in Nassau County. On May 18, 2006 DeStefano was sworn in as president of the County Firemen's Association, an organization comprised of 71 departments and 10,000 firefighters who serve Nassau County. For DeStefano, it is an honor to be the president of an organization that addresses concerns of the volunteer fire services in Nassau County.

The Nassau County Firemen's Association (NCFA) began back in 1903 with the first organizational meeting held in Mineola. Since that time, there have been only six presidents from the association.

"To be elected by your peers in the county is just hard to explain," said DeStefano. "It's quite an honor."

DeStefano joined the Mineola Fire Department 30 years ago and he did so because he simply wanted to serve his community for no compensation and no tax incentives. You could say that he joined the department for all the right reasons and has served proudly ever since.

DeStefano is an old school firefighter and is bothered by recent lawsuits concerning the Length of Service Award Program (LSAP), where people have sued their municipality because they felt they were being discriminated against due to their age. He feels such lawsuits have brought to light that at times, the spirit of volunteerism has gotten lost. "What happened to doing it for free? What happened with that? I just look and say to myself be thankful for what you've got," he said.

As president of NCFA, DeStefano will be a good voice for the volunteer firefighters across Nassau County. The good thing about NCFA is that the organization gives all firefighters an opportunity to be heard. "The Nassau County Firemen's Association is the only association where any firefighter in the county can come to a meeting and voice his or her opinion," DeStefano said. "Your particular voice will be heard."

For Mike DeStefano and his family, it has been a big year. Not only does he get to serve as president of the Nassau County Firemen's Association during the village's 100th anniversary, DeStefano and his wife Deborah celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary; DeStefano just turned 50 years old on June 13; Deborah is turning 50 this December and their daughter Nicole graduated from Mineola High School on Saturday.

As part of the honor of having one of Mineola's own sworn in as president of the Nassau County Firemen's Association, the Village of Mineola will host the organization's annual parade and block party.

The block party will take place on Thursday, July 6 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Wilson Field by the Mineola Pool, between Westbury Avenue and East 2nd Street; Friday, July 7 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. On this evening, there will be a fireworks display.

On Saturday, July 8 at 6 p.m., there will be a parade, featuring the trucks from many of Nassau's fire departments. The staging areas will be off Willis Avenue north of Jericho Turnpike. The parade route is south on Willis Avenue and then east on Jericho Turnpike. It will conclude at Wilson Park, where the block party will be taking place from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Gerry Hanson (Mineola High School Class of '69) and his daughter Katie Hanson have generously donated their musical talents for this evening.

On Sunday, the block party will take place at Wilson Park from noon to 5 p.m., at which time the festivities will conclude.

The Mineola Fire Department seems to have left no stone unturned in planning for the big celebration. Mark Danielson has been meeting regularly with the mayor and the board of trustees for months to address any concerns. The fire department even contacted the Nassau County Bomb Squad to make sure the fireworks area is safe.

Admission is free and it is a great way to support the Mineola Fire Department, which serves the village all year.

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