I attended the calling hours for our two fallen heroes from the West Webster FD on Friday, and the funeral for Lt. Mike Chiapperini from the Webster PD Sunday. The overwhelming show of support from thousands of people was sensational. I watched as hundreds of uniformed first responders stood outside shoulder-to-shoulder in the bitter cold for five hours as a sign of unity and respect. There was incredible eulogies, led by Webster PD Chief Gerald Pickering, who spoke eloquently about his fallen brother, friend and hero Chip. It goes without saying that Chief Pickering has more then earned his stripes and honor during this painful time for his department and community. I had tears in my eyes as Chip's beautiful wife Kim talked of her love for her man, and also inspired us all to not be sad, but to rather be thankful for the time we shared with such a man. Kim Chiapperini is a hero to me, a woman of grace and dignity during the worst time of her life. I wish her and Chip's three kids peace in the days ahead, along with the family of WWFD fallen hero Tomacz Kaczowka and his injured comrades Ted Scardino and Joe Hofstetter.
Kim's strength and words now inspire me to enjoy every moment as we enter a new year. There has been far too much tragedy and sadness during this holiday season. We can start a more hopeful time of joy today as the Amerks play home at 3:05p in a special New Years Eve matinee at the Blue Cross Arena. After, stay downtown for free skating at Manhattan Square Park. Family skating from 6-8p and adult ice time from 9-11p, coinciding with the city's holiday celebration at the Riverside Convention Center beginning at 7. Jimmy C the DJ will rock the house with party tunes and there will be plenty to entertain the kids with a bounce house, giant slide, climbing wall, bungees and more. This all leads up to the Rochester New Years fireworks at 10p. Yes, only in Roch do we celebrate a new year two hours early. Hey, I guess we're trending! Free parking at the downtown garages, so pack up the fam and friends and have a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!