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Families Of Fallen FDNY Firefighters Gather For Holiday Party

Families Gather At Toys 'R' Us In Times Square

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Toys ‘R’ Us in Times Square was shut down Sunday morning for some very special guests.

As CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported Sunday, widows and children of fallen New York City firefighters were treated to a holiday party at the store with its iconic indoor Ferris wheel.

There were plenty of fire trucks posted outside the Toys ‘R’ Us at 1514 Broadway. But inside, there was no fire to fight – only crews helping make memories.

One FDNY firefighter donned a Santa suit for the occasion. He brought holiday cheer to the children and widows of his fallen comrades.
“We miss my husband, their dad, but we’re surrounded by love here,” said FDNY widow Elsa Deery.

“We’re all here together,” added her son, Patrick Deery.

The Deery family lost their dad, John, 14 years ago in the line of duty. Teenagers Patrick and Jennifer are too young to remember.

But out of their tragedy, newfound friendships have been formed.

“I come and I see Jen, who is my best friend, and other people who I don’t usually get to see, so it’s very exciting,” said Jillian Usai, the daughter of a fallen firefighter.

The annual event is where the Usais and the Deerys became close, having shared similar experiences.

“She was an infant when he passed away, but she walks like him, she talks like him, she eats like him — she is him. Her name should be John,” said Jillian’s mother, Sueann Usai. “So it’s wonderful to be here. You just feel so much love when you walk in this door.”

For the widows and their children, the message of the day is family — not only their own, but their FDNY family that continues to support them.

“For a few hours, they are able to forget what happened to their loved one,” said FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano. “But it also sends a message to them that we will never forget their sacrifice.”

“Almost 16 years later, and it’s amazing the way that they treat us like we are part of their family,” added Sueann Usai.

The event is coordinated each year by the Uniformed Firefighters Association.

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