Longboat Key the clear winner at Police, Fire beachside blowout

Firefighter Daniel Heath blasts the winning shot.

With Rotary International’s motto being “Service Above Self,” the members of the Rotary Club of Longboat Key hosted a special event on Sunday, May 7, to celebrate those who truly embody that ideal in our community every day.

Longboat Key’s Police Department’s and Fire Rescue Department’s first responders, support personnel, and their spouses and children were the honored guests of the Rotary Club at its inaugural RESPONSE event at the Bay Isles Beach Club. RESPONSE stands for “Recognizing Emergency Service Personnel on Sunday Event,” according to Nancy Rozance, Rotary’s Community Service Chair. Ninety-three people were Rotary’s guests at the event.

Fire Chief Paul Dezzi and Police Chief Pete Cumming

Rozance explained that the idea for the event was planted by Longboat Key residents and supporters of Rotary, Larry Hall and Flinn Dallis. Hall commented, “…Yes, they protect us…quietly and perfectly. Yes, they prevent and solve criminal acts such as the recent hit and run of a biker on GMD. They fight fires on our behalf. They keep our roads safe. And they go further. They educate us about the best ways to stay safe in our homes, to prepare for and respond to major storms, how to resuscitate someone who is having a heart attack, and they are there to heal and save us in medical emergencies. We owe them a great deal for all of this.”

Fire Rescue Chief Paul Dezzi and Police Chief Pete Cumming, both of whom were in attendance, commented that they had never seen such an event in their many years of service to this community and to other communities.

The weather was glorious as participants enjoyed a delicious beachside picnic of burgers and hotdogs and all the fixings prepared by Rotary members and friends of Rotary. Guests enjoyed time on the beach, and many gathered in the Beach Club’s pavilion to catch up with co-workers and to meet their spouses and children. “Many of our Officer families had never met each other, and seeing them interact for the first time was a joy for me,” commented Chief Cumming. The lively camaraderie was warm and contagious. Bubbles, beach balls, and frisbees were available for children, and others enjoyed some competitive bean bag tossing. The Rotary Club arranged for the Sunny Days Ice Cream truck to provide a special treat for children of all ages. Cartoon-themed ice cream bars were a big hit with the kids, as they enjoyed frozen Sponge Bob, Hello Kitty, Minion, and other favorite characters served on a stick.

After enjoying lunch, members of the Fire Rescue Department competed against members of the Police Department in a rousing game of beach volleyball. The firefighters were the champions of that event. The revenge game came in the form of a department vs. department tug of war contest. The Police, with a little help from some family members, rose to the challenge and claimed victory. Each of the winning teams of these “Guns vs. Hoses” events was presented with a trophy to be defended by the Departments at next year’s event.

The afternoon concluded with an awards presentation ceremony. Scholarship awards of $350 each were presented to the two winners of Rotary’s Four Way Test essay contest, and two Honorable Mention awards of $100 each were also presented. Contest entrants (children or grandchildren of members of the Police and Fire Rescue Departments) were asked to consider a particular problem or conflict faced by young people in their age group and to describe how they could apply Rotary’s code of conduct to address or resolve the conflict. There were categories for entrants in grades six through nine and for entrants in 10th grade or higher. The grand prize $350 winners were Shelby Fultz, a freshman at University of Florida who is the daughter of Fire Rescue Lt. Mark Fultz, and Conner Gohl, a seventh grader at Venice Middle School who is the son of Fire Rescue Liaison Tina Adams. Their essays are reprinted in their entirety in this newspaper. The Honorable Mention $100 winners were Haven Corbett, an 11th grader who is the daughter of Sgt. Lee Smith of the Police Department, and Beatrice Brunschwiler, a senior at St, Stephen’s Episcopal School who is the daughter of Ivan Zunz, Customer Service Representative with the Police Department.

In a letter following the event, Chief Cumming wrote, “Thank you, Rotarians! The day was one we will not soon forget.”




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