Southold students salute local first responders with Heroes Day Celebration

Though last Thursday morning was rainy, it didn’t stop Southold elementary and high school students from honoring local heroes during the school district’s first-ever Annual Heroes Day Celebration.

The event celebrated community members who serve as police officers, firefighters, corrections officers and emergency medical service personnel. The festivities kicked off at 9 a.m. on Oaklawn Avenue with a parade of over 100 local heroes and students and staff led by members of the school’s NJROTC program. There was also a flyover by the Southold Police Department Aviation Unit.

Afterwards, the contributions and sacrifices of the local first responders were recognized with a formal ceremony in the elementary school gym. The event organizer, Southold first-grade teacher Danielle Donohue, read the names of the honorees and noted how long each has served the town, and several guests of honor of Southold students — parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and family friends — were also presented with certificates.

“It took really a full year of planning, meeting with the Southold [police] captain, getting permits to close down the street, contacting all the different branches,” Ms. Donohue said. “A lot of meetings, tying loose ends together and then just fleshing everything out.” 

There were several stations for students to visit to learn more about the various first responder teams, including the police department’s Dive and Rescue Team, Aviation Unit and K-9 Unit as well as a fire department obstacle course and EMS station.

“We’ve never had an event like this before at Southold, so I thought it was time to recognize all the people that work tirelessly for our community to keep us safe,” Ms. Donohue said, adding that she hopes to add to the event each year. “I’m fortunate to have so many children whose parents are first responders, so I knew this would be something that many people would be interested in.” 

Ms. Donohue said she was touched by the community’s response.

“It’s really amazing to see everyone rally around all the people that help people every day,” she said. “In this time in the world where everything is so divided, it’s really nice for everyone to come together to celebrate people that really deserve to be celebrated. I just really want to express gratitude to everyone who has helped me make this event happen.”