NEWINGTON - Retired and active firefighters are inviting the public to join them at an upcoming golf tournament and reception next week.
The Newington Veteran Firefighters Association is hosting its 29th Annual Golf Tournament at Stanley Golf Course in New Britain on Friday, June 15, followed by a reception at the Sphinx Shriners Temple in Newington.
The event is a fundraiser for the NVFA, celebrating its 65th anniversary this year. Funds raised will provide a scholarship to a graduating senior pursuing fire science.
It all started in 1953 at the old Company 2 firehouse on Maple Hill Avenue, now known as Station 5.
“We called it the Sunday morning club,” remembered retired Newington Volunteer Fire Chief Duke Kalasky, one of the group’s original members. “We were a small group of guys from Company 2 who would just get together and talk about fires and other occurrences from that week.”
Over time these conversations turned casual, and gatherings grew to include wives, children and friends, who would join the firefighters for picnics, holiday gatherings and fishing trips.
“There’s a closeness firefighters have,” Kalasky pointed out. “I’ve traveled and met fire chiefs around the country. We get to talking and it’s just like we’ve known each other for years.”
As they retired, the meet-ups continued. Eventually they opened up membership to active firefighters as well. These days there are 65 members, ranging in age from 21 to 89.
Kalasky is the oldest, turning 90 on June 14. He served in the NVFD from 1949 to 1995, retiring as chief.
The “Sunday Morning Club” evolved into the NVFA, which holds quarterly business meetings and social gatherings throughout the year. A winter setback tournament is very popular. The fall brings a harvest dinner and winter, a Christmas dinner.
NVFA President Chet Bogacz values the friendships he’s built with fellow firefighters over the years.
“What it simply comes down to is maintaining the camaraderie of the fire service,” Bogacz explained. “After you retire from the department you certainly don’t want to lose the friendships you had with people who went through the organization with you.”
He estimated the average member to be about 65 years old, although a few younger, active firefighters also take part.
“The new recruits come in to our clubhouse and look at the pictures of the old fires,” Kalasky said. “It’s like an education for them, learning from the events that happened in the past.”
Tickets to the upcoming tournament are $115 per person, including golf, a cart, dinner, prizes and a cocktail hour. Contact retired NVFD Chief Duke Kalasky at 860-666-2335 or Capt. Melanie Depamphilis at 860-794-3040 or firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve tickets. Registration forms are also available at fire headquarters, 1485 Main St., Newington.
Companies can sponsor the tournament by providing a donation made payable to the Newington Veteran Firefighters Association, 617 Maple Hill Ave., Newington, CT 06111.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or email@example.com.
If you go:
WHAT: The Newington Veteran Firefighters Association’s 29th Annual Golf Tournament
WHEN: Friday, June 15, shotgun start 11 a.m.
WHERE: Stanley Golf Course, followed by reception at Sphinx Temple
HOW: $115 a person includes golf, cart, dinner, cocktail hour, prizes