Friday, 15/1/2021 | : : UTC-5
Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Lights & Sirens Cookoff

Lights & Sirens Cookoff

$31,000 in contributions to be divided amongst
5 local charities

By Shannon Myers
Harker Heights Evening Star

Food, fun, and music brought an upwards of 500 people to Sandy’s Lone Star in Nolanville for Community Service’s first Annual Lights and Sirens BBQ Cookoff on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.
The first annual event was created to establish strong bonds between first responders and members of the community they serve.
“To show appreciation, to give thanks, make new friendships, and for the community to get to know the people that are serving us and protecting us…If you take the uniform off, they are just another person,” said Heather Rhodes, event organizer and founder of Community Service.
Community Service is an organization committed to serving first responders by building better relationships. After seeing the negative publicities and mass officer killings, Rhodes wanted to help give back by finding ways to help create positive relationships with those who serve the community she lives in.
Lights and Sirens cookoff held a 50/50 raffle, a live and silent auction included local artwork, woodcarving sculptors, and a custom 911 handgun and knife. The event provided live music from five different bands, two food trucks, and activities for the family.
“It’s wonderful to see all the different activities and how enthusiastic the participants seem to be… I think one of the biggest problems is people don’t quite understand one another because we don’t spend time getting to know each other. This is a great venue to get people to do that,” said event attendee, Anthony Powell.
28 BBQ competitors competed in five categories: beans, chicken, ribs, pork butt, and brisket. Children also competed in the cookoff with a pork chop competition.
“When they called me for first place, they asked if it changed my life… I just wanted to have fun, to cook and see how well I do,” said 10 year-old, first place winner of the children’s pork chop cook off, Austin Mucllican of Killeen as his parents were loading his prize, a new grill into their car.
Local organizations and others such as the Killeen Police Explorers were also out supporting their community and special causes at the event.
Killeen Police Explorers, part of the national Law Enforcement Explorer Program, helped children with fingerprinting identification to take home with their parents.
“We come out and give these kinds of services free to the community and we came here to support our brothers in arms as well…So we want to make sure we are out here doing what we can to contribute in whatever way we can,” said Officer, Julian Martinez, child safety coordinator.
Central Bell County Fire and Rescue Chief, Jason Worsdale has seen more community comradery when functions such as the Lights and Sirens BBQ occur.
Worsdale said more people in the community honk when they drive by and more people getting involved when they get a major call. People will bring food and water to the rescue and fire fighters.
“Public functions like this allow us to let our hair down a little bit and not be involved with people on a bad day,” said “Usually when they call us, it’s one of the worst days of their life. So to be able to mingle people one-on-one, away from work, we really enjoy stuff like this,” said Chief Worsdale.
The event raised over $31,000 will be divided amongst the following charities: Killeen PD L.E.A.F, Killeen FD Hero #221, Police Chiefs Association, Harker Heights FD Fallen Hero #229, and Central Bell County Fire and Rescue Fund.


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