Hundreds gather in salute to first responders

Protectors of Elizabeth Tribute brings community together

Tabatha Stewart
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 8/19/19

Luigi and Melissa Casaretto, owners of Sweet Alfas Bake Shop in Elizabeth, know firsthand the importance of local first responders. After Luigi’s brother fell ill with a heart issue while at their …

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Hundreds gather in salute to first responders

Protectors of Elizabeth Tribute brings community together

Posted

Luigi and Melissa Casaretto, owners of Sweet Alfas Bake Shop in Elizabeth, know firsthand the importance of local first responders. After Luigi’s brother fell ill with a heart issue while at their home, they made the phone call nobody wants to make — they dialed 911.

“Even though there was a lot of snow, the first responders got there really quick, and were able to get my brother out and to the hospital,” said Luigi. “He got better eventually, but if they hadn’t been there who knows what would have happened.”

The Casarettos joined hundreds of Elizabeth and Elbert County residents to pay tribute to first responders — including personnel from the Elizabeth Police Department, Elbert County Sheriff’s Office, local firefighters and the Colorado State Patrol — during the annual Protectors of Elizabeth Tribute on Aug. 14. The event was sponsored by the Means Insurance Agency in Elizabeth, and included free food, drinks, live entertainment and activities for children.

“This is really awesome to have the community come out and show how appreciative they are of what we do,” said Elbert County Sheriff Tim Norton. “And community businesses really came together to make this happen.”

Radar, a purebred bloodhound with the Elizabeth Police Department, was a big hit with the kids and posed for pictures with his handler, officer Frank Hurst. Radar is credited with assisting on 22 homicides, finding numerous Alzheimer’s patients who have wandered off, and travels with Hurst across the states in search of missing children and cadavers.

Adam Neisen has been with Elizabeth Fire and Rescue for 14 years, and spent the evening visiting with residents and enjoying live music provided by “We are Madeleine.”

“It’s nice to see the community come out and support us,” said Neisen. “And it’s nice for them to know we support them.”

Attendees were treated to pizza, soda and drinks and tacos, all donated by local businesses. Javier Larius, owner of Catalina’s Diner, served up nearly 200 pounds of meat in the form of tacos, and said he was happy to support the first responders.

“Thank you for all the stuff you do for us in the community,” said Larius. “And know that we are here for you as well.”

Don Means said they sponsor the event every year to bring the community together to get to know the first responders, and this year’s event was bigger than ever.

“It’s important for all of us to come together,” said Means, who noted that he had just read about six police officers being shot in Philadelphia. “We want to let our responders know we appreciate all they do.”

Elizabeth Police Chief Steve Hasler mingled with residents and first responders from other agencies.

“I don’t know how many other communities do this,” said Hasler. “We have several agencies here tonight, and it’s the whole team coming out to show support for each other. Together we all get the job done.”

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