Tallahassee celebrates first responders



The city of Tallahassee held a tribute dedicated to all public officials and their families Oct. 1. Judy Mandrell's vision for the event was to give a special thanks to Hurricane Irma's first responders. Mandrell said they inspired the event.

“I had the vision. I presented it to Doc D, who is over Tallahassee Nights Live and the program manager for Heaven 98.3 FM, Greg James and my husband," said Mandrell who is the coordinator of the Citywide ‘Thank You’ Celebration. "They said, ‘Sounds like a great idea let’s do it.’ ”

The celebration was held at Cascades Park Amphitheater with live performances, food and profound 'thank you's' from Mayor Andrew Gillum, City Commissioner Curtis Richardson and many more.

Tallahassee residents remember the devastating effects of Hurricane Hermine, and being several days without power last year. Residents were thankful for the quick recovery of power and cleared road debris during this hurricane season. Many city workforces offered helping hands for families, sheltered those in need, and made sure everyone reached their destinations safely during the storm.

The live celebration began with a welcome from the hosts, Joe Bullard and Abby Walton. A praise team followed with an opening performance, and the mayor delivered his thank-you speech.

The program featured many performances and speeches about the patriotism shown during the storm. A speech recognizing the Salvation Army's services mentioned that they were feeding 200 people twice a day when the storm made landfall.

Matt Stone, the lead pastor at Capital City Church, described the celebration as “Unity in the community. I just love to see everyone coming out, no matter what their political stances are or their backgrounds, just seeing everyone come together, and I love that.”

Contributions to the event came from countless people, and there were multiple sponsors.

Mandrell said, “When I put the event out there, everyone just started donating. Everyone who is participating today and helping, it is just the people of Tallahassee saying thank you to; our mayor, our governor, the first responders, our linemen, the schools, ordinary people who opened up their homes. Everyone just pitched in.”

With the help of several hosts, Mandrell presented an astounding event. She accommodated for 1,000 people; hundreds attended.

Vendor host LaCora Handsford said, “She had two weeks to plan the event, so I think she accomplished all the goals she could in two weeks. And I definitely think this is something she should do annually, and on top of that, all of the main people came out to support and that is amazing to see.”