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Local businesses honor first responders with free lunch on 9/11

Vehicles from various law enforcement agencies lined up Saturday to receive a free lunch from Salty’s BBQ & Catering in honor of their service on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Volunteers and employees of SSD Alarm assembled boxes of chicken, tri-tip, mac and cheese, beans and a roll to avoid any concerns with COVID-19. Around noon, almost 150 boxes had been distributed, said Tye Peterson, the operations manager with SSD Alarm, which coordinated the event.

“We’re here to support the first responders no matter what is going on in the world right now,” Peterson said. “We want to show a little bit of unity.”

SSD Alarm created the “Hero Appreciation” event 17 years ago, Peterson said. Originally, the company served individual fire stations; however, with the onset of the pandemic, they switched to a drive-thru. The company also created a raffle for $100 gift card to Valley Gun.

Peterson sought to put into action the popular phrase “never forget” in regard to 9/11 by appreciating first responders.

Radio station LIFE FM 88.3 played Christian music throughout the event and handed out supply kits to each officer. Melissa Woods, promotions director with the media company, said the station jumped at the opportunity to honor the 9/11 anniversary, giving back to people protecting citizens every day.

“(It’s) a small way to say thank you,” Woods said.

She remembers how 9/11 changed their lives forever. Woods held her 6-month old daughter and watched the towers crash on television. At first, she felt shocked. And then, tears started falling. She did not want to let go of her daughter, Woods recalled.

Matt Pelishek, a programs director and radio host, was in Bible school and recalls “stunned silence” surrounding his peers as they watched the towers crumble. He hopes the public can remember the unity felt after the attacks, and put aside politics and other divisions.

Bakersfield Police Department Sgt. Travis Harless dropped by for the Salty's BBQ lunch with two other officers. He said he appreciates how businesses donate their hard-earned money to benefit law enforcement.

Saturday morning’s ceremony at Bakersfield Fire Station 15 also allows the public to reflect on the tragedy of Sept. 11, he added.

“The events are important to give (the community) an outlet to come and show their support and appreciation,” Harless said.

You can reach Ishani Desai at 661-395-7417. Follow her on Twitter: @idesai98.