Firefighters at the Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue firehouse will play on a red felt pool table bearing Alstott's signature
Thursday was a day of surprises for the dedicated firefighters of Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue.
First, a long-awaited renovation of their firehouse was unveiled on Thursday morning. The Pinellas station was one of 10 firehouses selected for a kitchen and recreation room design overhaul in a nationwide contest, and that overhaul has just been completed.
The day's second surprise was a special guest visitor, on hand to help the firefighters enjoy their new space and commemorate the event. The guest was one of the many appreciative citizens of Pinellas County: Tampa Bay Buccaneers fullback Mike Alstott.
Fire companies in 10 U.S. cities entered a contest sponsored by a national food company and a broadcasting network by submitting a 250-word essay and a photo of a room they wanted to redo. A panel of judges picked two finalists in each city, and members of the public voted online for the firehouse they deemed most worthy of redesign.
Before this stroke of good fortune, Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue had not received a kitchen renovation since 1982. Other than outdated décor, the kitchen also suffered from chipped cabinets, a shortage of counter space and a tiny sink that couldn't hold the large pots and pans needed to prepare dinner for several firefighters each night. The adjoining dining area was no better, populated by a hodgepodge of rescued tables and chairs.
Much to the delight of the firehouse's denizens, the contest provided both $10,000 and the help of a local interior designer. The project to spruce up the adjoining kitchen, dining and recreation areas lasted almost three months and produced a brand new look with a Buccaneers theme.
At an event planned to show off the new space to the firefighters and their families, everyone gathered around to hear some words from Chief Russell Livernois. After many thanks were handed out to those who took part in the renovation, it was time to reveal the day's special guest.
The firefighters were surprised and excited to see Alstott, one of the most popular players in franchise history, walk through the door of their recreation room. A Gulf beaches resident, Alstott stopped by to see the firehouse's new design, take some pictures and offer some heartfelt thanks.
"This looks great," Alstott exclaimed. " I just want to thank each and every one of you for what you do. Not only do you work hard to keep our community safe, you support the Buccaneers also."
Alstott autographed a large Buccaneers flag that adorned the wall of the recreation room. He also signed his name right on the middle of the firehouse's new pool table, which was covered in Buccaneer red felt.
"We couldn't ask for a better kitchen," said Chief Livernois. "And these guys are huge Bucs fans. They try to get me to buy them a big screen television each season, but I always have to turn them down."
Alstott recognizes the sacrifice firefighters must make to ensure that the community remains a safe place to live. He was pleased that his surprise visit showed the firefighters at this particular house how much they are appreciated.
"These firefighters put their lives on the line every day to protect us," said Alstott. "If I can give back that support by coming here to say thanks, then I'm going to do that."
Booger Takes Program Across the Bay
Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Anthony "Booger" McFarland recently took his "I Can Wait" program across the Bay to Pinellas County teens. On Wednesday, July 12th, McFarland spoke to approximately 400 teens who participate in the YMCA of the Suncoast summer program. Before that date, McFarland had only shared the goals behind his program to kids in Hillsborough County schools.
The "I Can Wait" program encourages youths to get the facts before they act when it comes to making decisions about things such as drinking, smoking, drugs and relationships. The teens were challenged by McFarland to visit his Web site, Booger92.com, to take the "I Can Wait" pledge.