A night of ‘Honor’ and ‘Valor’

Taking a taste with all those who made the third annual PBA Cigar Gala a smoldering success

By Mitchell Krugel 

Where there’s smoke, there’s…

Another overflow crowd of members who came from as far away as Mercer, Cumberland and Mercer counties to Crystal Springs Resort on June 7 for the third annual PBA Cigar Gala. They enjoyed the two new PBA Cigars specially made for union, aptly named the “Honor” and the “Valor,” as well great food, great camaraderie and great benevolence to support the Survivor and Welfare Fund.

There’s also a flock of businesses who stepped up to sponsor the event so thick that signage to recognize who they are lined all four walls of the permanent tent adjacent to the Crystal Springs Golf Course where the event was held. In two rows. “As I tell our members all the time, the quiet public supports us a thousand percent,” PBA President Pat Colligan noted.

And there’s a mass of members, friends and supporters so big that it proved to be the perfect opportunity for the PBA to honor one its great friends in the NJ Senate, who is retiring this year. Senator Steve Oroho, who represents the district where Crystal Springs is located, was honored with a plaque from the PBA reading in part, “In appreciation for continuing and unwavering support of law enforcement throughout the state of New Jersey.”

“Thank you very much for all that you have taught me over the years,” Oroho told the 400-plus who attended. “To law enforcement, God bless you. We love you.”

Then, there’s Cigar Gala Co-Chair Vito Spadea, the Somerville Local 147 State Delegate, praising Alex Martinez from Main Street Cigars, who spearheaded the creation of “Honor” and “Valor.” Spadea also thanked everybody for the hoops they all jumped through to give the PBA its own brand of cigars for this and every gala to come.

And, of course, there’s Spadea’s wingman, Cigar Gala co-chair Joe Dudley, the Dunellen Local 146 State Delegate, citing how such a successful gala came to pass for the third consecutive year,

“This couldn’t have been done just by the two of us. The entire Cigar Gala Committee worked tirelessly,” Dudley added. “The 24 hours that lead up to this event is a ton of work. I want to say thank you to our committee for busting their asses yesterday, today and throughout the night tonight.”

Last, but certainly not least, there’s Bergen County Local 102 presenting a $40,000 donation to the Survivor and Welfare Fund from its renowned cigar night that has been running for more than 20 years. Local 102 members presenting the proceeds from the cigar night the begat all cigar nights has become a staple of the annual Cigar Gala.

Cigar Gala co-chairs Joe Dudley, left, and Vito Spadea present a box of the new PBA cigars.

Mike Dinis

Milltown Local 338 President

Third year at Cigar Gala

I just finished the Honor, now I’m doing the hand roll. The Honor was great. I was there when they released it at the Mini Convention, and it was delicious then, so I was happy to have it again.

This event, you have everybody from your basic patrol officers all the way up to chief of police. You can just talk about the job, and everybody can be on the same page and just discuss some different things from different departments or just have a good time. Everybody’s just out here having a great time.

Because as soon as the cigar comes out, you just sit back, you relax, and you can just talk amongst friends. You can release whatever anxieties you have, any issues that you’re going through, and I think it helps a lot of us with any issues that we’re having because other officers here can relate to any of the problems that they’re going through. So it brings everybody back down and puts everybody just in a good place.

Guy DiMemmo

Owner, VCS Software makers of POSS and Job4Blue

Cigar Gala Sponsor, First year at Cigar Gala

It’s nice to see all of our customers. Almost everyone in the membership is one of our customers. They’re friends. They use our software every single day. It affects their lives. So it’s nice to come out here and see the people that we actually serve.

It is nice to be able to do this and give back a little bit to the guys who helped us grow our business. We’re homegrown here in New Jersey, so, over the past 25 years, this is why we’re still in existence, these officers right here.

The law enforcement industry is a very tight. They like to talk about successes, and they like to talk about things. Obviously, a lot of times, when they’re talking about successes, we’re part of it.

We’re a legacy company. We plan on staying here in New Jersey supporting the police, and we just love sponsoring nights like this.

Enzo Passano

Wayne Local 136 State Delegate

Third year at Cigar Gala

It’s just nice because everybody from the state comes. The prizes are great. It’s run very well. It’s just a good time. It’s a chance for us to get out of our own little comfort and rub elbows with members from other counties, members we very rarely come in contact with unless you’re at the convention.

That’s why everyone comes out. When you good food, you have a good atmosphere, you have good prizes, you have good cigars, that’s why people come. It’s the draw. It’s a high-end cigar outing, so that brings everybody.

I am smoking the PBA cigar, the lighter one. It’s excellent. I actually had one before. It’s cool that the PBA has its own cigar. Big time.

The Cigar Gala is a great idea. It’s one of those things that was like something that you could always look happily on. You were happy to make something people want. And this is something that everybody wants.

Elayne Velazquez

Snore No More & Sleep Solutions

Cigar Gala Sponsor, Third year at Cigar Gala

The best part about this evening is the camaraderie between the officers, having the team that comes with being the brothers and sisters in the PBA.

To be able to sponsor an event like this is a proud moment. It is for everyone to have a good night, to come together, to have drinks, have fun, win prizes, see new things. It is incredible to be able to be a part of this.

I’m having the Honor cigar tonight. It’s a nice, light cigar. It’s going great with white wine. It’s absolutely delicious. I’m appreciating it very much. I’m looking to buy a box tonight.

I am proud of each and every one of you. I think that you do a job that not everyone can do, and you wake up every day not knowing how your life is going to go. You are amazing. You are why we continue to help, support and donate and, no matter what, we will always have your back.

Vinny Amabile

Hopewell Local 342 President

Third year at Cigar Gala

Listen, anything for Survivor of Welfare is important to us. We know how much it means to, not just only us, but the state as a whole. So anything we can do to support it, we’re there for it.

Seeing guys you don’t see all the time, and being able to just catch up with people, meet new people is another reason we come. We’re in our kind of over the bubble, and to be able to get out and see people, is kind of what it’s all about.

It’s a lot that goes into all these events. We’ve all been there. We’ve all put events together. And just being able to come and enjoy one and not really have to worry about the particulars about it, is a good time, too.