Sergeant Kenny Porrino, a detective in the Fort Lee Police Department and a resident of New Milford, has been a member of the Police Pipes and Drums of Bergen County since its inception in 1992.
"We've never put together something as large as this event," Porrino said. "Nothing on a scale like this."
Porrino, now a Drum Sgt. and Vice President of the band, recounted the band's origins 20 years ago when Drum Major Mike Conway (ret. Fort Lee Police) and George Kellinger (ret. detective Bergen County Sheriff Dpt.), both volunteer Fort Lee firefighters, had the idea to start a pipe and drum band in memory of their friend, Doug Connell. Connell, also from Fort Lee, was a drummer and founding member of the NYPD’s Emerald Society Pipe Band. Conway and Kellinger put out a call to all police departments in Bergen County to see if anyone was interested.
Little did they realize that the course of 20 years would take them from a novice group of spirited players practicing in a firehouse barroom to the Rose of Tralee festival in Ireland and to Carnegie Hall in New York City. The band has grown to comprise members of law enforcement not only throughout Bergen County, but from county, state and federal agencies in both New Jersey and New York. They serve at all official police functions including Line of Duty Funerals, Parades, Academy Graduations, Memorial Services, and Various Civic Functions.
To celebrate this historic milestone, the Police Pipes and Drums of Bergen County will be hosting a three-day celebration beginning Thursday that will feature The Pipes and Drums of the Emerald Society NYPD, The Pipes and Drums of the Blue and Gold New Jersey State Police, Pipes and Drums of the Emerald Society Chicago PD, The Pipes and Drums of the Cleveland Police, Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes and Drums, The Pipes and Drums of the Port Authority Police NY/NJ, The Bergen County Firefighters Pipes and Drums and A Band of Rogues.
On Thursday there will be a welcoming party at Poitin Still in Hackensack from 7pm to midnight. Tickets for this event are $50 per person and includes food, beverages and entertainment. Tickets can be purchased at the door.
Friday sees the return of the Icebreaker, or as it is now known, CÉILIDH ON THE HUDSON. This event takes place on the banks of the Hudson River at Ross Dock in Fort Lee from 1pm to 10pm. The cost is $25 per person which includes food provided by Outback Steakhouse, beverages and two live bands. Tickets can be purchased at Ross Dock during the event.
The celebration culminates on Saturday with the live Pipe and Drum show at the bergenPac Theater in Englewood at 7pm with all the bands performing. In addition to pipes and drums, Perrino said that the Bergen County Police Pipe Band will incorporate guitars, keyboards, violins and more into the performance.
"You won't be hearing your traditional Irish tunes," Perrino said. "We're incorporating rock into it."
Tickets for the concert are $53. To purchase, click here.
The show will be immediately followed by an after party right outside the doors of bergenPac on North Van Brunt Street where there will be food, drinks and live entertainment.
"We couldn't put something like this together without the help of so many agencies," Porrino said.
Other agencies include Bergen County Police, Bergen County Sheriff, Port Authority Police, Fort Lee Police, Englewood Police, Englewood Cliffs Police and Palisade Interstate Park Police.
"This is a huge undertaking," Porrino said. "But it will all be worth it."
Afterall, you only turn 20 once.