ORLANDO, Fla. – While most people get to spend the day at home surrounded by family, many of our first responders are working. Brevard County Fire Chief Mark Schollmeyer started a tradition to try and make it a little easier on his staff, though.
For the last eight years, Schollmeyer and his wife, Jessica, have spent Thanksgiving stopping at each fire station in the county and delivering homemade pies.
“Although they’re not pretty, it’s a symbol and gesture of thank you for everything you do,” he said.
Driving over 250 miles, they get started at 6 a.m. and it takes them about 12 hours.
“It’s 33 stations, plus our dispatch center, and this year we’re dropping one off to the First Flight medical helicopter in Melbourne,” he said.
Their hope is that the baked goods take away a little bit of the gloom of working and not being with family.
“I spent 33 years with the department and I knew what working holidays is like,” he said. “Being away from your family is tough, especially for those with young children.”
Schollmeyer said some of the firefighter’s families will come visit the firehouse and even bring dinner but holidays as a first responder lead to new and different traditions.
“Our finest family memories were the kids coming up to eat on Thanksgiving. Christmases were never really on Christmas; they were either the day before or the next day,” he said.
When duty calls and it’s time to put on the helmet, though, Schollmeyer said you won’t hear many complaints.
“Whether it’s a holiday, weekend, nighttime, we’re here 24/7 for the community,” he said.
Schollmeyer said this was likely the most special year to him and his wife. He said he’s actually retiring in March so this year was their last.