Some extra holiday cheer was delivered to families who lost a parent in the line of duty at O’Neill’s in Maspeth as part of a decades-long tradition with the NYPD’s Honor Legion.
Upwards of 40 families were guests of honor at the Maspeth mainstay, with police closing off the nearby cross streets of 53rd Drive and 65th Place on Friday.
“We’re here to make a difficult time a little easier,” said NYPD Honor Legion president Anthony Longobardi. “In the Honor Legion, we’re a family,”
Longobardi says the event helps bring a sense of comraderie and support to families that have been struck by tragedy. With the annual holiday party called off last year due to pandemic restrictions, this year’s party included an NYPD helicopter drop-off of Santa Claus and gifts delivered to children.
On the corner of the newly renamed “George O’Neill Way,” horseback rides were given out courtesy of the NYPD and a warm meal awaited families inside.
Danny Pyle, co-owner of O’Neill’s, said the original O’Neill family has been catering the holiday event for over 50 years. With other corporate venues available to hold events for the Honor Legion, Pyle and Longobardi agree that it is the family environment that keeps the tradition alive.
“The most important thing to George O’Neill was his family and Maspeth,” said Pyle. “We love the NYPD, it’s an honor to have them here.”
Founded in 1900, the Honor Legion is composed of members of the NYPD who have received Departmental Recognition and have been awarded medals for deeds of valor performed at imminent risk of life, or who have been commended for acts at personal risk.
The oldest fraternal organization in the NYPD serves to render aid and comfort to the survivors of members of service who have been killed in the line of duty.
“I couldn’t imagine what they have been through,” said Pyle. “We have to let them know we won’t forget about them.”