NANUET, N.Y. -- Members of the New York Police Department Emerald Society Pipe Band will play Wednesday at NYPD Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo's funeral.
And while the band is typically deployed for somber ceremonies, they also perform at joyous event like parades. On Saturday, the NYPD bagpipers joined five other bands in the first ever Pipe Band Competition at the Pearl River Elks Club in Nanuet.
The day began with a moment of silence for the officer who was killed Friday.
The participants included Rockland County Police Emerald Society of Pipes & Drums band, along with police and fire bands from Bergen County, N.J., the NYPD and Fire Department of New York.
With the tragic line-of-duty death of Tuozzolo on Nov. 4, a day before the competition, the Port Authority pipe band made the decision to donate all proceeds from the evening to a fund that's been established for his family, New York Port Authority Police Officer Bobby Wallace told Daily Voice.
He is pipe sergeant of the PAPD Pipe Band and organizer of friendly competition.
It was more about playing for the enjoyment of the musicians themselves and spectators who attended, Wallace said, telling how he hatched the idea a year ago.
"It was a chance for first responder bands to be showcased in a different aspect than what they (usually) do."
"We're all about bagpiping, even outside the department, and many of us have grown up playing bagpipes It is part of our family tradition. We also happen to be part of law enforcement. I came up with the idea a year ago," he recounted.
While somber services and funerals are the central focus of law enforcement pipe bands, they also play at happy occasions, like parades, so Saturday's spectacle, which 150 people attended, was just that kind of opportunity.
Sadly, the various band had learned of Tuozzolo's death Friday.
"We knew the day before. On Saturday we opened with a moment of silence, and everybody who showed up, musicians and the people that came, helped make this a great tribute," Wallace said.
His band, Wallace noted, practices weekly and is always prepared to go to a somber event.
"But we've done them so many times, we're always ready," he said, admitting there are times when "it's tough not to feel involved, especially when we know the person."
Still, Saturday's bagpiping was mainly for enjoyment. There was a 50/50 raffle, which was won by PAPD PBA Trustee Mike Mollahan and the first- and second-place competition prizes were won by the bands from NYPD and FDNY, with all returning prizes to be added to the total donation.
Altogether, $3675 will be donated to Tuozzolo's family.
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