The citizens of the Village Key Biscayne know how important first responders are to the community. They save lives, protect residents from danger, and also engage in community service by spending time with kids and encouraging them to do well in school.
But on Saturday, residents and their children got the opportunity to see how the Keys Biscayne police and fire departments operate at their headquarters.
Key Biscayne Public Safety Open House drew a large crowd at 88 West McIntyre St., where police officers and firefighters demonstrated their abilities performing CPR, operating a fire truck and police car, and a drunk buster drive.
Since it’s the Christmas season, Santa Claus was on hand, as well as the Grinch, who the police made sure didn’t steal any of hte kids’ presents.
The United States Marine Corps Reserve also participated in the event with its Toys for Tots program, which distributes toys to children whose parents can't afford gifts for Christmas.
The event was “an opportunity for people to come to our locations and see how things are done,” said Key Biscayne Fire Chief Eric Lang. “We have Toys for Tots and it’s an exciting time to share with the community.”
Deputy Fire Chief Mike Haring said the village’ police and fire departments usually hold a quarterly Public Safety Open House, but the Coronavirus pandemic has kept people home recently.
He said he’s happy people returned for this event: “It's like a welcome back event. It’s truly an open house today.”
Key Biscayne Police Chief Frank Sousa said the event allowed everyone to interact with each other. “(Citizens) got to see what first responders do,” he said, adding:
“This is the vision of Village Manager Steven Williamson, for all of the departments to connect with the people and the youths in the village.”
Police and firefighters gave kids bags with prizes, a toy police car, a mini firefighter's hat and safety guides. They were also treated to milk and cookies.
Moncy Blanco-Herrera, a local attorney who brought his daughter, Madeleine, to the event said it was fantastic. “It's a great event for the kids to see the people who protect us.”
Eduardo and Junita Cardenas, visiting relatives in Key Biscayne from Columbia, thought it was a great idea. They brought their granddaughter, Carindina Cardenas, to the event.
Living in Columbia, they know the importance of public safety, and they praised all first responders.
“They do a wonderful job protecting us," said Eduardo. “They put their lives on the line for us.”
He said Key Biscayne is truly a paradise. “We love the place and the people here. It’s like our second home.”
Junita Cardenas agreed, and noted that bringing the community together at the Open House during the holidays was a win for all.
"”The community is part of your family,” she said. “I think it's wonderful.”