New York Daily News

December 16, 2001

Sadly, Party for Children Of Fallen Cops Is Packed

Daily News Staff Writer

It's a party that no one ever wants to grow bigger, but this year it was standing room only at the annual holiday celebration for widows and orphans of the New York City Police Department.

In past years, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the union that organizes the fete, has played Santa to about 45 children who had lost a parent in the line of duty.

Michael Bloomberg shares some Christmas cheer with 5-year-old Niya Carrington.  

This year, their number swelled to nearly 80, as 34 children who lost a mother or father in the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11 were added to the list. In all, 23 city cops lost their lives that day, including one mom, Moira Smith, 37, an officer in the 13th Precinct who left behind a 2-year-old girl.

"It is just astronomical," said PBA President Patrick Lynch. "But this is a way for us to try and put some joy in their lives, as difficult as that is at a time like this.

"We can't be their mothers and fathers. But maybe we can be aunts and uncles and try to make their life a little easier."

In that, they succeeded yesterday. Santa arrived on the back of a flashing NYPD motorcycle, having been ushered into Bridgewaters, a South Street Seaport restaurant overlooking the East River, by the department's Emerald Society Pipe and Drum Band. The big guy then proceeded to hand out a roomful of presents, many of them donated by ordinary New Yorkers.

"This is a party and everyone is going to have lots of fun," said Mayor-elect Michael Bloomberg, clearly trying to strike an upbeat tone for the children.

Bloomberg later told reporters that he would try hard to retain city police and firefighters, thousands of whom have recently filed for retirement, in part because overtime pay earned since Sept. 11 will boost their pensions.

Bloomberg also vowed to be in Times Square on New Year's Eve and has even discussed the possibility of being sworn in there that night. It is traditional for mayors to take the oath of office on New Year's Eve in a fairly private, late-night ceremony, with the public swearing-in on the steps of City Hall following on Jan. 1.

But yesterday, the focus was on the kids and their future.

"We will always be there for you," said First Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Dunne. "Not just today, not just on the holidays, but every single day of the year."