Irving—The Irving Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s 4th annual Irving’s Big Heroes Service Appreciation Day honored both the Irving Police Department and Fire Department during on Friday, March 29.
Irving Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC) president Mary Ann Kellam said the appreciation event has grown in just a few short years.
“We started off just cooking hamburgers and spending the time with [the first responders],” Kellam said. “It’s gone from eight vendors to 30. We had to turn away some [vendors] because we didn’t have space available.
“It’s basically just giving us an opportunity to thank [the first responders] for their service, for putting their lives out on the line for us every day. They don’t get this enough. I think we need to do this more often, because they are out there every day.
“Then I hear that they’ve got other jobs, and they shouldn’t have to be doing that. Our thing is to just thank them for what they do. I want the community to know that we support the police and fire.”
Irving Police Officer Adam Wargacki has attended each year’s celebration and is thankful for the partnership between the first responders and the Irving citizens.
“This is spectacular,” Wargacki said. “It’s a kind tribute for people who serve in public service, police officers, marshals, firefighters. At the same time, we say thank you for putting this on this as an appreciation.
“Without the public and without people who work in public service, it wouldn’t work. It’s all teamwork. Working together we can hopefully make it better for both of us. Without each other, we don’t have anything, it is really about teamwork.”
Kellam said this event shows the community, especially the younger citizens, that the first responders are a valuable resource.
“Sometimes, especially with younger kids, they don’t know that [first responders] are the good guys,” Kellam said. “They will be say, ‘Don’t let the cops see you,’ or ‘Don’t talk to the cops.’ [Kids] don’t know they are human just like us. [First responders] are here to take care of us. [First responders] are there every day no matter what, no matter the rain or snow or sun.”
Irving Mayor Rick Stopfer appreciated this opportunity to honor Irving’s fire and police departments.
“It’s not very often that we get an opportunity to get our police and fire together like this,” Stopfer said. “In Irving, Texas, we have the best police department, fire department, and first responders in the whole United States.
“We are fortunate to have the chiefs that we do. They understand the city probably better than anybody. They know where all the nooks and crannies are. They know the streets. They know where the hot spots are. They do a fabulous job of making sure we are protected.
“Both of them spend a tremendous amount of time in our community trying to make sure we have the things we need. Both of them have done an outstanding job getting grants and coming up with new programs that we can utilize in our city. There’s not enough time for me to stand here and talk about all the great things they’ve done. But I do want you to know they are the best of the best. We are very fortunate to have them.
“Take this opportunity, not just this day, but whenever you get a chance to see one of our men and women in uniform,” Stopfer said. “Please take the time to shake their hand and thank you for what they do.”