Lake County’s heroes were out in full force during the 2018 Heroes Day at Great Lakes Mall in Mentor.
Heroes Day, presented by the Lake County Task Force on Crime Prevention, has been an annual event providing the community a chance to meet members of Lake County fire and law enforcement agencies as well as the armed forces while learning about each of the organizations.
The event featured police officers from Mentor, Mentor-on-the-Lake, Willowick, Willoughby and Eastlake, along with a trooper from the Ohio State Highway Patrol Chardon Post, the Mentor Police SWAT Department, Mentor Fire Department Dive Team, The Lake Metropark Rangers, Lake County Sheriff Department, Lake County Crime Lab, McGruff the Crime Dog, and The Sub Zero Mission. Service members from the Air Force and Army were also at the event.
Heroes Day started with a meet and greet outside the main entrance to the mall where attendees could meet the heroes of Lake County and talk to them about they do, get photos with agency mascots, climb inside the police cruisers from the departments presents, try on the SWAT team’s tactical gear and explore the equipment and boat used by the fire department’s Dive team.
The Air Force and Army offered a chance for attendees to test their physical fitness with a pull up bar, football toss and corn hole games.
New to the event this year was a color guard ceremony performed by Mentor American Legion and VFW Post 9295. Eleven-year-old Luke Peterson — considered a local hero for his lifesaving actions at Riverside School in preventing a classmate from choking — led the ceremony by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
“I wasn’t that nervous and it was pretty cool,” Luke said.
While he thought it was cool to see all the emergency vehicles on display, his favorite part of the event was the Pledge of Allegiance.
Eastlake Police Officer Shawn Parker, who enjoys participating in these community type events, thought it was a lot fun and feels that it gives the community the opportunity to see law enforcement in a positive way.
Rylin Pease, 8, Painesville, said her hero was her father, Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Pease of the Mentor Recruiting Office.
Charles Barnard of Mentor, who attended the event for the first time with his five-year-old son, Caden, said he thought the event was just amazing.
“Kids get to see police doing good and they get to see the inside of their cars, it’s good interaction,” Barnard said. “I have never seen anything like this and I think every city should do this.”
Fu Men of China — who is visiting his son Jason Men of Mentor — tried on the tactical gear for the first time.
Jason thought the event was very professional and said he felt quite safe.
Robin Dopp of Mentor thought the whole event was awesome and there was not one favorite activity that her two sons Justin, 6, and Caleb, 3, like best.
In addition to the meet and greet and vehicles there was also a K-9 demonstration presented by Mentor K-9 Officer Terry Wurgler and his K-9 Titan with assistance of RTA K-9 Officer Dennis Harmon.
Mentor Fire Department gave a presentation on fire safety and smoke detectors.
Lake County Crime Lab offered child finger printing and information was handed out by police and fire along with park rangers on seat belt safety, drug prevention, and bicycle and water safety.
Suzy Sistek, dispatcher for Mentor with assistance from mascot Red E. Fox presented the awards for the Mentor Police Department 911 coloring contest.
Mentor community policing officer James Collier and officer Colleen Petro talked to with kids on seat belt safety and other safety issues awarded the prizes to the Mentor Elementary students who won the annual third grade seat belt safety poster contest.
According to Collier, the poster contest has been held by the department for approximately 30 years. It has been a great way to educate kids about seat belts use.
“We look forward to Heroes’ Day each and every year,” said Kate Miller, Great Lakes Mall marketing director. “Great Lakes Mall is proud to bring the community together for fun and educational events, such as Heroes’ Day.”