Destin Chamber trustees provide free lunch for local first responders in memory of 911
In memory of the 9/11 terrorist attacks from 2001, members of the Destin Chamber trustees provided a free luncheon Friday for first responders from around Okaloosa County at the firehouse on Airport Road in Destin.
“This is awesome,” said Aaron Calloway, a captain with the North Bay Fire Department in Niceville.
Calloway was picking up pizzas and a tray of salad to take back to the firehouse across the bay.
The trustees had planned a cookout for the first responders on Friday with hamburgers and hotdogs, but when the rain happened, they went to plan B.
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“It was raining and we didn’t want to cancel, so we brought pizza’s in,” said trustee Jason Hall of Five Channels.
“If they are going to respond to us in the rain, the least we can do is feed them in the rain,” said Jerry Sullivan of Century 21 and a trustee.
By noon, they had already had about 45 first responders stop by for lunch.
“We’ve had a lot of people leave for calls already,” Sullivan said.
Hall added: “We’ve had two fire trucks and three police cars leave … with lights on.”
Last year, they cooked more than 250 hamburgers. This year, they ordered 45 pizzas from Lone Wolf Pizza. Redneck Riviera Smokers also brought in barbecue.
“Thank you for everything,” said Deputy Sheriff Ben Haines as he went through the pizza line.
Destin Fire Rescue had emptied the firehouse of trucks and had about a half dozen tables set up. There was also a friendly game of corn hole going on.
Sullivan said the chamber started this tradition during the pandemic.
“We wanted to show our local guys that we appreciated them, so we came out and fed them,” Sullivan said.
But last year, it was the chamber trustees that supplied the food and put on the free lunch.
During the two-hour luncheon, firefighters from north of the bay, Okaloosa Island and Ocean City came, as well as the Coast Guard and lifeguards, police officers and others from the sheriff’s department.
“We love our law enforcement, the first responders … we’re lucky to live where we live,” Sullivan said.