Hundreds of active and retired LAFD members – and their wives – made it out to the Pechanga Resort and Casino for the 3rd Annual LAFRA Reunion in May. Many arrived in motorhomes, others on motorcycles, but all came for a day or two . . . or five of camaraderie with their old friends, and maybe made a few new ones while they were at it.
This was not a charity event like Hope for Firefighters or the September golf tournament. This was your Relief Association giving back to its members. This was a week of pure fun and relaxation.
There was a little business going on in the clubhouse each day. Reps from LAFRA, the credit union, the department of pensions, and Unum (our long term care insurance provider) were on hand to answer questions and solve service problems with members face-to-face.
There was also a little house-cleaning going on. If you didn’t know it, the Relief Association has moved! In order to keep the moving costs down, Juan Albarran ordered the attic cleaned out and he brought loads of logo items to give away. The red plastic cups were a big hit and no one went away empty handed. Also, if you didn’t know it, the LA Firemen’s Credit Union changed its name to Firefighters First Credit Union. Aimee, from FFCU, was giving away as many nail files, sewing kits, shoe shiners and key chains – all with the “old” name on them – as you could carry.
LAFRA hosted a pizza and beer reception on Tuesday night. The stacks of gourmet pizzas were ordered from a famous local pizzeria – I think it said Kirkland on the boxes. After there were only a few crusts left on the plates, Andy Kuljis whistled . . . and everyone listened. LAFRA Trustee Tim Larson then got up and told a few stories of how the organization is helping its members in need: one about a disabled retired member whose roof blew off and another about a member’s wife who died delivering their baby. Tim followed this with a plea for everyone to buy Golf Ball Drop tickets, of which 100% of the proceeds go to the Widows, Orphans and Disabled Firemen’s Fund.
Steve and Chris Domanski coordinated an area wine tour for Wednesday. The trolley made a stop right at the clubhouse door and whisked away the large group of wine enthusiasts, stopping at two wineries in the Temecula Valley. There was also a stop at a brewery for those with a more pedestrian palette. I heard there were just enough cork dorks on board to help evaluate the QPR’s, and avoid the plonks and clunkers.
Sadly, Chris Domanski was unable to partake in the wine tour. She was forced to remain in the motorhome with their sick puppy. Maybe the pooch ate the leftover pizza crusts from the night before? Or drank out of someone’s red LAFRA cup?
Wednesday evening was another LAFRA hosted dinner in the clubhouse, and Thursday everyone met in the hotel to try some of the 250 fresh items and action stations offered at the Pechanga Buffet. By Friday noon, the hotel rooms and RV park were empty – with the actives headed back to the firehouse, and the retirees . . . well, doing whatever it is they wanted to do.
There’s plenty of room for everyone at Pechanga, so don’t miss the fun, and start making your plans to come out for next year’s reunion.
By Dave Wagner
Photos by Ed Allen and Lloyd Payne