Actor Gary Sinise makes way to Erie on 9/11 to celebrate the region's first responders

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Actor Gary Sinise is coming to Erie on Monday. And he isn't coming empty handed.

Sinise will present more than $150,000 to local police and fire departments during the First Responder Appreciation Day sponsored by the Gary Sinise Foundation.

The foundation also will treat police, firefighters and emergency medical crews to food and refreshments during a Monday evening concert by Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band. Admission is free to the public.

"We do these events to draw attention to the men and women who protect our cities, and that's what we'll do in Erie on Sept. 11," Sinise said in a recent interview.

Adele Giles, the wife of Fuller Hose Co. volunteer Shawn Giles, who was killed in the line of duty on Aug. 20, and Erie Police Sgt. David Stucke, who was shot in the leg in the line of duty on July 30, have been invited to attend the concert as Sinise's special guests.

Also planned during the day are a golf tournament, celebrity item auction and downtown car cruise-in benefitting the Gary Sinise Foundation, which supports America's military and first responders.

The concert

Stolen Silver will open Monday's concert at Liberty Park's Highmark Amphitheater at 7 p.m.

The Lt. Dan Band will perform at 8 p.m. The rock 'n' roll cover band is named for Sinise's role as Vietnam veteran Lt. Dan Taylor in "Forrest Gump."

"The band is great. People always have a good time at our concerts," Sinise said.

First responders who show IDs will get vouchers for free meals and beverages from food trucks at the park. Gates open at 6 p.m.

EMTA will offer free shuttle service for the event, from the West 12th Street and Lincoln Avenue Park & Ride and from the Intermodal Center lot near Blasco Library.

The grants to police and fire departments

Gary Sinise Foundation grants to help local police and fire departments buy needed equipment will be formally announced during the Lt. Dan Band Concert.

Erie Bureau of Police will receive $32,481 for five electric bicycles for its bike patrol unit. The Erie Bureau of Fire will get $29,328 for automatic external defibrillators, hoses for high-rise fires and other department needs.

Grants also will go to Millcreek Police for $31,000, and to two Millcreek volunteer fire departments. West Lake will get $38,000 for four firefighter air packs. Belle Valley will get $16,269 for four portable radios.

"There will also be a surprise award," Sean Perseo said. Perseo, of Erie, is a former Marine who serves on the Gary Sinise Foundation advisory board. He also is ambassador of outreach for Sunbelt Rentals, which partners with the foundation to honor and support the military and first responders.

Erie Insurance additionally is supporting Erie's First Responder Appreciation Day.

More First Responder Appreciation Day events

Custom car builder and TV celebrity Chip Foose will be grand marshal for the car cruise on State Street, between Third and 12th streets, from 5 to 9 p.m. Foose and Sinise will open the event between 5:15 and 5:30 p.m. at the Perry Square stage.

Foose will visit with owners and others throughout the cruise. He'll also select several "Chip's Choice" vehicles for special recognition.

Sponsored by CruiseTown Erie, the event is open to any vehicle of interest to enthusiasts, organizer George Lyons said. Some first responder vehicles also will be parked along the cruise route.

The golf tournament will be held at Fairview's Lake Shore Country Club at 10 a.m. Registrations are sold out, Perseo said.

The auction also will be held at the country club. A silent auction will get underway at the clubhouse at 10 a.m. The live auction for the celebrity items is expected to begin at 4:45 or 5 p.m.

Items up for bid will include Sinise's "Apollo 13" movie poster signed by cast members and director Ron Howard. Also among auction items will be an old-time-Hollywood-style movie camera crafted by Erie metal artist Adam Stempka. A metal "Action!" clapboard attached to it has been signed by Sinise and other celebrities.

The Gary Sinise Foundation

Sinise has been visiting, entertaining and funding programs and services for the military and military veterans since the 1980s. He began supporting New York police and firefighters after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and founded the Gary Sinise Foundation in 2011 to support both the nation's military and first responders.

"We try to do something on Sept. 11 each year, and this year we will be in Erie celebrating first responders," Sinise said.

As first reported: Actor Gary Sinise's Lt. Dan Band will headline First Responder Day in Erie on Sept. 11

And another celebrity visitor: Chef Robert Irvine is coming to Erie to present a special gift to a retired police officer

Contact Valerie Myers at

This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Actor Gary Sinise will play a favorite off-screen role in Erie Monday