Thai Erawan in Ormond Beach wanted to do something special for first responders.
In honor of National Police Week, which started on Sunday, May 10, and runs through Saturday, May 16, the restaurant, located at 219 E. Granada Blvd., provided local police officers and firefighters with a free lunch on Friday, May 15. The first responders paraded in their vehicles through Granada Plaza Shopping Center on the beachside in a lineup of flashing lights and sirens during the early afternoon.
For Heidi Raynor, a server at the restaurant for the past four years, it was a way to spread love and kindness.
"These are our heroes," Raynor said. "No matter what — 2 o'clock in the morning, these are the people that we call."
It wasn't a one-time occurrence. Thai Erawan has been helping to feed first responders and those on the frontlines of COVID-19 since April. It delivered over 100 meals to AdventHealth Daytona Beach on April 22 and 24, and on April 29, the restaurant delivered 63 meals to the county's emergency operations center.
Ormond Beach Fire Chief Richard Sievers said he and other firefighters come to Thai Erawan about once a week. Raynor told them the restaurant wanted to do something special for the fire and police departments, and Sievers said it was a great thank-you. He said they wanted to thank the community to for their efforts in flattening the curve.
"It’s really all about them too," Sievers said. "We’re just out there running calls.”
This National Police Week is vastly different than past ones have been for Ormond Beach Police Chief Jesse Godfrey. Normally, he'd be in Washington D.C. taking part in the Police Unity Tour honoring fallen law enforcement officers. Because of COVID-19, the tour was canceled.
Every year, the tour participants are assigned a fallen officer to ride for. Godfrey's was a Missouri police chief. He still rode for him this week, completing a 250-mile "virtual unity tour" on his bike trainer.
“Every year we do this and it touches my heart," Godfrey said. "You don’t ever want to forget those that have come before us and fallen. It’s a way to honor them.”
That, coupled with the support they've received from restaurants like Thai Erawan, humbles him, he added.
"I’m truly appreciative in the way they honor their first responders — the police, the fire — it’s a beautiful thing," Godfrey said.