HACKENSACK, N.J. — Traffic halted on several local streets Monday afternoon to make way for police trailers headed to Hackensack from Closter with a very special delivery.
Hundreds of police officers from more than 50 Bergen County agencies -- along with dozens of soldiers from the National Guard Armory in Teaneck -- spent the morning sorting the thousands of gifts at the Closter firehouse.
Once all of the toys were in trailers and ready to go, officers hopped in their cruisers, trucks and motorcycles and headed toward the hospital.
In its 29th year, the Bergen County PBA Toy Drive -- organized by retired Closter Sgt. Donald Nicoletti -- brought joy and happiness to countless sick and needy children.
"It's gonna be nuts," Nicoletti said as he helped unload the toys outside of Hackensack University Medical Center.
"We have tons of stuff. I'm just taken back by how much is coming in.
"A lot of happy kids today."
The officers formed a chain from the parking lot outside of the Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center and into the lower level conference room.
Santa Claus and his elf greeted visitors and families in the lobby, before hand-delivering toys with officers to children on the floors.
Retired New York Ranger great Mark Messier was getting into his car across the parking lot as the officers were unloading the gifts.
"All of the stuff we do pays off today," said Closter Police Sgt. Vinny Sarubbi, Nicoletti's right-hand man. The pair have been preparing for the toy drive since August.
"It's all worth it when we see a child smile at the hospital."
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