Damien Rincon, 9, gets to sit at the wheel of a fire truck courtesy of Kyle Wright of the Roswell Fire Department during a Salute to the First Responders event held at Lawrence Brothers IGA, Saturday. (Mark Wilson Photo)
Fire trucks and police cars filled in the Lawrence Brothers’ parking lot on 2nd Street Saturday as the smell of burgers and hotdogs floated through the air. The day was warm, but it didn’t seem to hinder participation in IGA’s fourth annual Salute to First Responders cookout.
Ever since his son suffered two strokes, store director Blake Meek has held a special place in his heart for the men and women who are first on the scene at emergencies. In an attempt to repay and thank the first responders, Meek started up a cookout. Police officers, EMTs, fire fighters and all those who respond first in dangerous or emergency situations are offered free burgers, hotdogs, drinks, chips and ice cream.
“It’s a small way to say thanks to first responders in the community, and a way for people to see that they are just like you and I except they really do put their lives in danger for us,” Meek said.
Blue Bunny ice cream was offered around as fire fighters leaned back against their trucks and police officers took a moment to socialize with each other. Even McGruff the Crime Dog made it out for the event and stood on the corner waving to cars as they drove by.
“It’s a relaxed day,” Meek said. “We want the public to come out and meet (the first responders), shake their hands, and meet them in a non-threatening way.”
Although food was free for first responders and their families, anyone was allowed to purchase food with all proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Club.
A bouncing gym graced the corner of the parking lot, inviting in younger kids. And of course the red fire truck became a popular place for kids to sit and get their picture taken.
Employee Nicole Morales has worked at Lawrence Brothers for nearly five years, and she said the men and women are appreciative of the time taken to offer a cookout.
“Who doesn’t like free food?” she asked rhetorically. And, just as Meek had hoped, the event was a relaxing, family friendly environment.