LAFD Firefighters Reunion at Pechanga

June 30, 2019

For the 7th year running, scores of firefighters, both active and retired, headed out to Temecula for the annual reunion event in May. Both the RV complex and the hotel were showing off the effects of recent remodels, making for a very comfortable week of festivities.

The big event is the Temecula Valley wine tour and this year’s affair had another great turnout. There were so many signed up for the escapade that three trollies were hired to haul the crowd out to the vineyards. It was a quiet bunch that loaded into the open-air vehicles at the clubhouse in the morning. But it was obvious that they had all had a rollicking good time when they returned in the afternoon after visiting a host of wineries.

There were big crowds again this year at what have become signature get-togethers at the Reunion. The first was the Bloody Mary breakfast served at Tim and Diane Freeman’s place on Wednesday morning. And then on Thursday eve, the Maga’s Martini Contest started at sunset and may have still been going strong as the sun rose the next morning.

All day on Wednesday, reps from many of your favorite firefighter organizations were available for personal consultations in the clubhouse. They included Ana Salazar from LAFRA Member Services, Wayne Sherman from the LAFRA PPO Medical Plan, Bernice Ortiz from the Pension Dept, Jim Finn from the Historical Society, Don Forrest and Dave Marino from LA Retired Fire and Police, and of course, Firefighter’s First Credit Union.

Unfortunately, the round of golf was rained out on Thursday, but there was still plenty of sunshine for a few very competitive rounds of cornhole. But the championship round of Bringas vs Denning almost didn’t take place. Rick couldn’t find his favorite Chinese made bean bags and, in a tantrum, refused to pitch without them. He spent the day searching all over town for new ones, but due to tariffs, couldn’t find any. Denning did finally relent and play the final match, but Billy skunked him with four straight airmail shots.

At night, the competitive action moved indoors to the casino. The commotion was centered at the craps table, where Bob “Hard Way” Steintalker was introducing his protégé, Kenny “Fresh Meat” Breskin, to the intricacies of the game. Ken had an incredible run of beginner’s luck – from come-out to crap-out, he shot the dice for nearly five hours straight. There were so many stacks of chips covering the table, lining the rail and stuffed into everyone’s pockets that the boxman had to restock the table – twice! Ken was winning so much money for the table, the players were giving the tips to him instead of the stickman and dealers. A little after midnight, as the action finally subsided, an ecstatic Breskin, carting away almost a wheelbarrow full of chips, was heard to say, “I won so much money tonight I’m going to buy dinner for the guys at the station for a whole month!”

The success of the Reunion each year is due to your participation – all the firefighters, spouses and friends. But the event could not take place without the vision and hard work of a few dedicated LAFRA members. A huge thank you has to go out to the Reunion Executive Committee: Chris Domanski, Wendy Larson, Cynthia Smith, Penny Albarran – and also the husbands of these great ladies. There was also an excellent turnout of LAFRA Trustees this year, who were only too happy to lend a hand where needed. A great time was had by all – see y’all next year!

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