American Legion members showed their appreciation to first responders in grand style at the Holiday Inn in Independence on Saturday, Oct. 20.
Legion members from Post 572 in Parma, Ohio, along with contributions from posts throughout Ohio's District 13, picked up the tab for nearly 300 first responders and guests. The featured speaker was the Hon. Maureen O'Connor, chief justice of the State of Ohio Supreme Court. The special guest speaker was Jean Wilson, 2nd vice commander of the American Legion Department of Ohio. The opening ceremony saw the joint color guards of Post 572, Parma Fire, Parma Police and Cleveland Police placing the colors. The national anthem was sung by 6 members of the award-winning a cappella chorus The Men of Independence. Renowned magician Robert Lapp performed tableside entertainment during dinner hour. Contestants from the Miss Ohio pageant, including Xyla Foxlin, Miss Greater Cleveland, Maribeth Tagg, Miss Shawnee, and Rachel Gombosch, Miss Portsmouth, served as hostesses providing photo ops and mingling with attendees. Dance music and entertainment was provided by the very entertaining band The Edge. A guest appearance by Parma Police K9 Max was a hit of the night. Dignitaries included police and fire chiefs from 6 different departments; in all, 14 departments were represented. Timothy DeGeeter, the mayor of Parma, presented the business of the year award to Mission BBQ and Yurch Funeral Home. The law enforcement officer of the year award was presented to officer Adam Laeng of the Berea, Ohio, Police Department. Firefighter of the year went to Bob Gorey of the Cleveland Fire 5th Battalion, and civilian of the year to Nicole Walmsley of "Safe Passages" for her dedication to helping the addiction problem in the state through law enforcement initiatives. Photographs by James Lockyer; photo CDs of the evening are available for $5. Send to American Legion Post 572, 6483 State Rd., Parma, OH 44129.