POUGHKEEPSIE – The City of Poughkeepsie Police created a drive-through “Winter Wonderland” at the Public Safety building on Main Street Thursday night and the turnout was impressive.
Community Policing Officers Mike Braren, Tom Palinkas, and Kevin Van Wagner, who is the PBA President, worked with Detective Karen Zirbel to create a bright spot in the city after the Holiday of Lights Festival was canceled due to COVID.
At the entrance, visitors were greeted by an elf who directed the cars down the driveway that was sided with numerous holiday-themed inflatable displays, large candy canes, and dozens of strings of colored lights. After passing the displays, Santa Claus was there to present children with candy canes and officer holiday greetings before the cars continued on past several police vehicles, an ambulance, and a fire department ladder truck – all lit up for the night. In the center of the lot, the city’s MRAP was decked out in festive lighting complete with the Grinch on the rear steps. Several attendees stopped and admired the vehicle and took pictures and video.
“Our members took a chance on this with no idea what the turnout would be,” said Zirbel, noting that the response was tremendous. Van Wagner called the three-hour event a “huge success.” “There were cars lined up to get in at 5:00 pm and we had fifty cars drive through in the first thirty minutes.” The PBA President noted that many community leaders like Royce-Giron and school board member Tom O’Neill visited. “We had more than 200 cars come through and not one common council member chose to come see our efforts to provide holiday cheer during these trying times – that’s disappointing,” said Van Wagner.
Poughkeepsie resident Dory Marcinelli praised the efforts of the first responders. Saying the police “outdid themselves” with the Winter Wonderland. “This is just two weeks after the Thanksgiving Dessert Drive and just before the Candy Cane Express and Santa’s Flyover.”
Marcinelli praised the police as she pointed out that the Thursday night event came immediately after a large-scale joint investigation that “resulted in numerous arrests, most importantly those responsible for the murder of a 15-year-old child,” as well as the recent incidents that resulted in taking illegal guns off the streets.