More than 200 folks dropped by the Alcoa Firehall on North Wright Road on Dec. 22 for the firefighter’s annual Ham Breakfast.
Deputy Chief Jimmy Whaley said the tradition started in the mid-1980s when insurance agent Leon Shields would provide the hams for the breakfast. “Leon Shields always has provided the country hams. Leon Shields is an insurance person, and, back at that time, he and Chief Clifford Freeman were friends,” Whaley said. “He got into the habit of buying those for us and now does that for us every year,” said Whaley.
Whaley added that the firefighters have made it a tradition to prepare the breakfast. While all city employees come, people from the community also are invited.
“The City of Alcoa has always been a family,” said Whaley. “We’ve been small enough so that most employees know everyone else throughout the city, so it’s a good time to get together,” he said. “It’s just a good time for everyone to get together and wish everyone happy holidays, have a lot of laughs and good conversation.”
Chief Roger Robinson said the event is something everyone looks forward to each year. “It’s always a bunch of fun. We get some of the retirees to come and help cook, and that’s always good to get them back in here and talking with the men,” the chief said. “With the old retirees telling stories about the way it was in the old days, that’s always fun to hear.”
Robinson said the crowd was larger this year with about 200 people attending the Tuesday morning breakfast. “It’s good for all the departments to come together and eat, and we also invite people from the public, folks from the schools and just citizens and business people,” the chief said. “It’s always a good thing to have, and we’re going to continue doing it as long as we can. It’s a tradition that got started in the mid-1980s and everybody looks forward to it.”