POUGHKEEPSIE – The monthly First Friday celebration in Poughkeepsie featured a “Hometown Heroes” softball game which pitted the city’s police department (Finest) against the city’s firefighters (Bravest).
The game was part of the First Friday celebration at Eastman Park that featured live music from Lucky House, food from local restaurants, a host of regional breweries selling their adult beverages, and entertainment for all ages.
Brian Laffin, Poughkeepsie’s Superintendent of Parks and Recreation greeted both teams prior to the first pitch and thanked both departments for coming out and playing. Laffin then got behind home plate to catch the ceremonial first pitch hurled by Mayor Rob Rolison. The pitch was just a little outside, leading to Rolison saying “I hope there are no pictures of that.” The mayor proceeded to praise both departments by saying “You men and women are the backbone of the city!”
The softball game was played on Stitzel Field and was a tight match between the city’s two groups of first responders. The fire department, sponsored by Baxter Construction came out swinging early and jumped to a 2-0 lead. The police department, sponsored by Rhinebeck Bank, trailed the entire seven-inning game with the firefighters winning 5-4. Both squads were joking throughout the game and the spectators got to see a fun game.
On the victory, Firefighter Nick Bucher who serves as president for the firefighters’ union, IAFF Local 596, was pleased with his team’s performance. “Thank you to First Friday PK for the invite to play at their July event. We are proud of our relationship with the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, and we are thrilled to have been able to play a friendly, fun game with our brothers and sisters in blue.”
Officer Kevin Van Wagner, president of the PBA said “this game is one more example of how Poughkeepsie’s first responders step up for the community. It also gave residents a chance to see us in a different light. We’re glad to do it.” Detective Chris Libolt, who pitched a good portion of the game for the cops said “the camaraderie between the two departments was furthered by tonight’s game. It was good for all of us.”
“Tonight was a great opportunity to get out on a warm summer night and see our local heroes play a fun game of softball,” said Laffin. “This should grow into an annual event attached to First Friday.” Both Rolison and Laffin praised the efforts of other city workers with Laffing saying “The DPW guys did an amazing job getting the field ready and they are the behind the scenes reason all of these events go off without a hitch.”