AP NEWS

First responders picnic shows appreciation for people in public safety

April 8, 2019

MOHAVE VALLEY — A community came together Saturday to show appreciation for its first responders.

The Sunrise Rotary Club of Fort Mohave, along with the Bullhead City/Mohave Valley Association of Realtors and the Laughlin and Bullhead City chambers of commerce, hosted a first responders picnic at Mohave Valley-Fort Mohave Community Park for the second straight year.

Event co-organizer Mijung Lombardi said the event was designed to show appreciation for people in public safety professions, including law enforcement and fire and rescue services.

She said the picnic was conceived by Rotary members displeased with the animosity between citizens and first responders — particularly police officers — in some communities across the country.

“We just want to show how much we appreciate them,” she said.

Last year’s event included just first responders and their families, Lombardi said. This year, the general public also was invited.

Lombardi said organizers planned to feed 1,000 people. It was made possible through food donations, she said.

Colorado River Medical Center provided pulled pork sandwiches, Culver’s provided frozen custard and Mohave County Supervisor Hildy Angius and Bullhead City Fire Board Chairman David Cummings took care of the hot dogs.

Other contributors included Walmart, Joe Jones of Needles and the Bullhead City Noon Kiwanis Club.

The event also included live music, a bounce house, games and drawings — raffle prizes for the public and cash prizes for the first responders.

Sgt. Mike Nyquist of the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office said he was happy to see the picnic.

“It’s a great event,” he said. “The food is good, and the stuff they put out for the kids is awesome.”

Mohave Valley firefighter Michael Lowenthal said he was impressed by the community’s acknowledgement of its first responders. He said he got into the fire service because it was his father’s profession, but serving the community is why he’s doing it now.

“I enjoy helping people in their time of need,” Lowenthal said. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”

Contente Wilson is the wife of a sheriff’s deputy. She said she appreciates that the picnic was set up to be family friendly, as officers don’t always get family time.

“My husband’s a K-9 handler,” she said. “He gets called out all the time, and he’s not always home when he’s supposed to be, so it’s great to get to do something with the family.”

Lombardi said she’d like to see the idea of a first responders picnic spread to other communities.

Nyquist said his takeaway is the level of generosity behind the event.

“To be honest, it’s shocking,” he said. “Money is not easy to come across, and for people to give it up for a cause like this is a heartwarming gesture.”