First Responder Outdoor Bash

Staff from Elton-based Best of Friends guide 11-year-old Cody Farabaugh (left), of Loretto, around a field on a horse at Carrolltown’s American Legion Park on Sunday.

CARROLLTOWN – While a barrel-style ticket wheel took a spin, DJ Tommy Gunnz was calling out another raffle winner at Carrolltown’s First Responder Outdoor Bash on Sunday.

Since 2016, it has been the area’s fire and EMS companies that have been the biggest winners, sharing nearly $80,000 in proceeds, event coordinator Tracey Stolz said.

A crowd of more than 1,700 people returned to American Legion Park in Carrolltown to benefit three more agencies – John Carroll EMS, Hastings EMS and Nicktown Fire Company – in what Stolz described as a record year for the fourth annual event. While event-goers’ children were treated to horse rides, a candy hunt through hay and inflatable bouncers, families from across the Northern Cambria region took part in a list of raffles for the cause.

“Four years ago we saw a need to help our first responders and we decided to create an event the whole family could enjoy,” she said. “And the response has just been fantastic. We printed out 1,800 tickets for $25 this year and we sold them all.”

Attendees received an all-you-can-eat buffet from Friedens-based Pappy D’s BBQ.

Nearby, Rory Smego, 3, of Northern Cambria, was searching through a patch of hay for candy – one of the several games volunteers had set up for kids at the event.

“He’s having a great time,” his mother, Amber Smego said.

Dylan Dospoy, 5, of Alverda, found time for a mound of cotton candy after taking a ride on one of Elton-based Best of Friends’ horses.

“The bouncey house was the best,” he said.

Hastings Area Ambulance Executive Director Rob Young praised Stolz and fellow volunteers for making the event possible.

The group found a way to support needy nonprofits – and provide something for the whole family to do as well, he said.

“There’s nowhere else where you go to a gun raffle or a jewelry raffle and have family activities like this,” Young said. “What Tracey did was just amazing.”

And timely, said Young and Nicktown Firefighter Theresa Dumm.

First-responder agencies are dealing with rising costs and dwindling reimbursements, they said.

“The cost of pretty much everything is going up,” said Dumm. “So for someone to step up and lend a hand, it’s incredible.”

Stolz said it wouldn’t be possible without the community’s support.

“We had 60 businesses helping us keep this event going,” she said. “We couldn’t do it without their support.”

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5053. Follow him on Twitter @TDDavidHurst and Instagram @TDDavidHurst.

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