It’s been nearly 18 years since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 rattled the nation’s collective consciousness.
On the north side, a group of retirement home operators came upon the idea of using the day as a way of honoring first responders, launching the First Responders Appreciation Block Party nearly a decade ago.
Fast-forward to 2019, and the tradition lives on, with this year’s event taking place at Mountain View Retirement Village (7900 N. La Cañada Drive) from 4 to 6 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 11.
This year’s iteration features a performance by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department Honor Guard, with speeches from Oro Valley Mayor Joe Winfield, Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier and Golder Ranch Fire District Chief Randy Karrer. The St. Marks Choir will also perform, with additional demonstrations from the Oro Valley Police Department’s K-9 Unit, the department’s bomb squad and DUI units, U.S. Border Patrol K-9 and a Golder Ranch fire ladder truck.
Winfield said the annual celebration has become a mainstay for the town and surrounding community, as it allows citizens to appreciate and show their support for their local police and fire fighters.
“First responders provide peace of mind to our residents,” Winfield said. “They respond to a host of needs, from real-life emergencies to other needs that residents have. We can easily take them for granted when we don’t have an emergency, but when that emergency comes, we’re sure grateful to have them.”
Joni Chandler, of Mountain View Retirement Village, said the event is a one-of-a-kind occasion. Chandler said the block party means a great deal to her staff and the village’s residents, as they can take time to thank those that serve their community.
“It touches my heart to see the support and appreciation that our community, through their participation, shows our first responders,” Chandler said. “They open their hearts without question, through donations to make this event a very special one for our first responders.”
Karrer, who has been at the helm of Golder Ranch since 2010, said the district is honored to participate in the block party.
According to Karrer, the block party allows department staff to take part in a community-centered event, which boosts their morale while establishing a bond with local residents.
“Golder Ranch Fire District is honored to be a part of this event, as we have been in years past,” Karrer said. “The fact that the community that we serve organizes an event to give back to first responders is humbling. We strive to be ‘Community First’ and it means a lot to us that our neighbors understand that we are working hard for them.”
The all-age event will also feature food and beverages, with a BBQ dinner after the ceremony, the Harmony Hospice Hawaiian Ice Truck will also provide ice cold treats.
Chandler thanked fellow event sponsors, La Cañada Care Center, Mountain View Care Center and St. Marks United Methodist Church for their assistance in hosting the event.
Winfield thanked Chandler and her team for their work in hosting and putting on the event, while also heaping praise on those that will be honored.
“I'm pleased that [Mountain View Care Center] is hosting this event, and encourage members of our community to support them, and to support our first responders that put their lives on the line every day,” Winfield said. “And that anything that we can do to express our appreciation for them is certainly a warranted.”