(L-R) Officer Ryan Dillerba, Firefighter Brett Driscoll, Officer Matthew Mclean, Andy Monahan, Deputy Chief, Mayor John Stephens, Dan Enea, event organizer, and Darren Denicola stand in front of the 9/11 memorial in Ilion, flanked by an Ilion Police Department squad car, and fire engine.

by Dave Warner

The 8th Annual Free Veteran and First Responder PIcnic is scheduled for September 11, 2022, from noon until 3 pm at Ilion’s Marine Corp League of Herkimer County location on Second Street.

It’s a Mohawk Valley event that is designed to be a commemoration of the 9/11 attacks with an opportunity to honor those veterans and 1st responders that are in the area. All community members are invited to take part, to enjoy the company of those who serve the community.

Dan Enea, who came up with the idea for the event eight years ago, said, “It was just a general idea to bring everybody together to honor our local heroes, veterans, first responders, all together in a laid-back environment.”

Enea said there are lots of activities and free food, and veterans from as far back as World War II.

“It’s going to be a great event this year with the new location at the Herkimer County Marine Corp League, which should attract a lot of people,” he stated.

Nursing homes in the area are bringing their residents, and Bobby Sportello will be singing the National Anthem to kick off the event.

Enea stated, “There’s tons of food from local restaurants.”

Darren Denicol said, “You name it, we’re going to end up with it. It’s a big event, and it gets bigger every year.”

Mayor John Stephens said, “Dan’s done this for eight years now, and it’s something he’s very passionate about. My dad and my uncle, and both of my brothers did forty-two years between the Army, Navy, and the Reserves.”

“This is something that I fully support. It’s important, and coming on 9/11 makes it that much more important with the first responders added in. It’s something that Dan brings to light, and he does a good job with it. We’re happy to have him in the village, and we’ll support him any way we can,” stated Stephens.

Free chicken BBQ was donated by Big M Supermarket and Nick Licari, there will be the ability to get a free Herkimer County Sheriff Child ID/Fingerprint card courtesy of Sheriff Scherer, and Ken and Regina Knapp are bringing the New York State Fallen Trooper Wall, which will be on display.

There are free soft drinks and sausage and peppers provided by Joe Lawrence, with music by KO  Grainger and USA flag pins from Chris and David VanMeter. Stewarts is also providing free ice cream.

The New Harford Color Guard from post #1376 will be on hand, as well as several area dignitaries, including Congresswoman Claudia Tenney, Frankfort Mayor Rick Adams, Herkimer Mayor Dana Sherry, and Legislator Bob Hollum (US Marine Corps).