Fudpuckers lets cops rock

Annie Blanks | The Destin Log
ANNIE BLANKS | The Destin Log

Crestview Police Chief Tony Taylor speaks to the officers and families who came out to Fudpuclers’ ‘Cops Rock’ event, where law enforcement officers and their families received a day full of free food, fun and entertainment.

Fudpucker's co-owner Chester Kroeger is disheartened by what he sees in the news about hostility towards law enforcement officers.

When Ferguson happened, Kroeger and co-owner Tim Chester vowed to express their support for first responders by holding a party of sorts for them at their Okaloosa Island restaurant.

“The whole thing was planned out,” Kroeger said. “Then Bill Myers was shot.”

Kroeger and Edwards called off the event out of respect for the late Okaloosa County Sheriff deputy’s family. Then, almost a year to the day after Myers was killed, following months of continued unrest between law enforcement officers and civil rights groups, Fudpucker's hosted its first annual Cops Rock event at their restaurant on Okaloosa Island.

“I just feel like these officers needed to know that this community supports them,” Kroeger said.

And support them they did. Dozens of law enforcement officers and their families from across the county, including the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department, Niceville and Crestview police departments, Florida Highway Patrol and the Florida Department of Corrections, among others, came out to enjoy a day of food, games and entertainment.

Fudpuckers provided free barbecue and drinks, and offered free boat and jet ski rides, parasailing and airboat rides. Fat Daddy’s Arcade and Escape Zone 60 also provided free fun for the families.

“These guys don’t get paid a lot, so some of this stuff they wouldn’t normally be able to afford for their whole families,” said OCSO Undersheriff Steve Harker. “It’s greatly appreciated.

“We’re lucky to live in a community that supports us so much,” he added. “They love us like a family. It’s a blessing.”

Fort Walton Beach Police Chief Ed Ryan said the support from the community was sincerely appreciated.

“These guys have so many stressors and pressures at work, you don’t see them relaxing a whole lot,” Ryan said. “Getting to ‘let their hair down,’ so to speak, and enjoy time with their families is what it’s all about.”