It's always a great time to hang with New Jersey's Bravest. The firefighters, EMTs and dispatchers who gather every year for the annual "Cooked and Uncorked" event make sure everyone has an outstanding time. Money raised from the event at the Pines Manor in Edison goes to support the St. Barnabas Burn Center and the NJFMBA.

My friend Eddie Donnelly invited me back to judge and share some thoughts with the crowd. I was joined by my podcast co-host Jessica Gibson. One problem, a slight miscommunication on the timing and we got there too late to fulfill our obligation as official judges. However, that did not stop us from eating the meatballs at the Long Branch table to the vegan, yes vegan, plantain dish from the good folks at Hamilton, the food did not disappoint.

In my remarks to the crowd, I mentioned several things including an appreciation of the families of first responders who are the ones waiting for these heroes to return home safely from their shift.

I also congratulated the group for the huge victory rescuing their pension plan from the greedy clutches of the Trenton politicians. Having their nearly fully funded pension system separate from the politicians protects the firefighters retirement money from the mismanagement that has nearly wrecked other public pension systems. There is no prosperity and truthfully no community unless you first have public safety. This includes cops, firefighters and all emergency responders.

It's always an honor to appear at an event supporting the brave men and women who carry the burden of keeping our communities and state safe. When there's food involved, it gets that much better. See ya next year!

Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. Tweet him @NJ1015 or @BillSpadea. The opinions expressed here are solely those of Bill Spadea.

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