History of PAL
Where and when it began
Fairfield PAL was founded on April 14, 1946 by Sergeant Thomas Murphy and Chief James Kranyik. Recognizing the need for closer police-youth understanding and cooperation, they called together a group of interested townspeople who formed a group known as The Fairfield Junior Police Advisory Council. The original purpose of the Council was to provide badges, belts, hats, raincoats, and instruction to the schools for the Junior Police Safety Patrol which was made up of eighth grade boys. As the town grew, so did the needs and interests of its youth. On May 8, 1958, the name was changed to The Fairfield Police Athletic League and they affiliated with the National PAL on September 15, 1959. William Winburn was elected President and served in that role for more than thirty years. Ed Reilly then served for more than 20 years as President. Frank Onder, who has been Treasurer for many years, has been on the PAL Board of Directors since 1954. The goals of PAL were then, as they are now, to provide positive activities for the kids in town and to promote positive interaction with the police department.
What has been offered over the years
The activities and events that PAL offers have changed over the years along with the interests of the kids in town. Early on, PAL activities were limited to sponsoring teams in leagues such as Little League and Babe Ruth baseball, running a bowling program, and coordinating the school crossing guards. The first annual Trout Fishing Derby was organized by Pat Carroll and Nick Fingelly and was held at Gould Manor Park in 1965. It has been an annual rite of Spring ever since.
In 1966, the “PAL Building” opened on One Rod Highway in what had been one of the NIKE defense buildings. Having a real home allowed PAL to offer in-house programs and expand the type of activities it could offer to the kids in town. The rifle range was built and the Rifle Club was formed. The building was also home base for the Marching Band and Baton Twirling groups, and special interest clubs like sewing, stamp collecting, bicycle repairs, weight lifting, and trading card collecting. Mrs. Jeanne Harrison and other volunteer instructors offered arts and crafts instruction for many years.
For several decades, the PAL building was home to just about any activity that kids were interested in. Also, every summer saw the PAL Field Day at Sturges Park. Games, races, contests and awards filled the day with fun and reinforced the bond between kids and their local police officers. The pie-eating contest was the highlight of the day. Unfortunately, the PAL Building had to be demolished to make room for the expansion of the town’s waste treatment plant so most of the “inside” activities have been suspended until a new home is found.
Where are we now?
Over the years, the annual Kite Flying Contest, Sand Sculpture Contest, and salt water Snapper Blue Fishing Tournament have joined the original Fishing Derby as PAL sponsored events. In addition to these events, PAL has proudly co-sponsored Breakfast With Santa along with the Parks and Recreation Department since its inception 25 years ago.
The organizations and programs that have been sponsored have changed with the interests of the kids over the years. We currently sponsor organizations including Little League baseball, Fairfield Little League Girls Softball, Junior and Senior Babe Ruth baseball, youth football, youth hockey, lacrosse, and summer basketball for boys and girls high school teams.
In addition to sponsoring teams in organizations like those listed above, Fairfield PAL currently runs several in-house programs:
Basketball for boys and girls in grades 5-8 is offered in the winter. There are currently 15 PAL teams participating in the Tri-County League.
Wrestling is offered in the winter and has proven to be a productive feeder program for the successful local high school programs. Run by Warde High School coach Jason Shaughnessey, this program offers the highest level of coaching and instruction.
Fairfield PAL programs and events are offered at no charge or at very reasonable rates. This is possible due to keeping costs low and relying on volunteer coaches and administrators. An annual fund-raiser mailing appeal brings in the funds required to “run the business”. The generous support of the citizens of Fairfield allows PAL to continue offering positive activities and to respond the changing interests of the kids in our town.