HOMER CITY — If you run a food truck concession and you also call your truck an apparatus — you just might be a volunteer firefighter.
A new fundraising effort by Homer City Volunteer Fire Company, in a bid to make lemonade from COVID-19 pandemic lemons, capitalizes on the ease of social distancing afforded by setting up food vendors in the spacious “firemen’s field” across from the Church Street fire station.
After launching their own new curbside food service this past Friday — an ice cream stand dubbed “Firehouse Creamery” — the Homer City department has invited more than 60 regional brick-and-mortar eateries and mobile food vendors to set up shop along with them every Friday evening through October.
As a fire company fundraiser, Homer City firefighter Dan Bekina said, the invitation will be extended to other Indiana County fire departments to serve up their fare as well, once the food truck court gets a foothold and develops a following.
Station 180’s ice cream shop did business from 6 to 9 p.m. on its premier night last week, but the operating hours will vary with the kinds of mobile food vendors who take part on the ensuing Fridays, Bekina said.
“We will never know who is going to show up,” Bekina said. “It’s hard to describe this because we’re just getting into it.”
The feel they got from food truck operators is that they want to serve from 4 to 8 p.m., the height of dinnertime. Some want to come earlier to catch a lunchtime crowd, he said.
Homer City officials figure to poll the participating vendors after a few weeks, and tweak the event to meet their needs, Bekina said.
“Baby steps,” he said. “We’re going to do whatever they want.”
Entrees may vary but the dessert will be consistent, Firehouse Creamery’s offering of vanilla, chocolate or twist ice cream cones.
Shakes and smoothies may follow. Baby steps.
“We have plans to put a red light on the roof to light up when we’re open,” Bekina said. “We’ll have banners and yard signs to promote it.”
Fire companies have looked for alternate ways to make sorely needed funds for equipment, maintenance and training. The coronavirus shutdowns killed the cash flow from bingo games and gun bashes that ordinary took place in close quarters.
“We want to thank Scott Schuller and the Indiana fire department, they came with lights and sirens to show support for us at our grand opening last week,” Bekina said. “The Coal Run/McIntyre department gave us a good write-up too” on social media.
Homer City firefighter Seth Pribesh, a dance DJ on the side, will give each Friday night a distinct atmosphere with theme night music, Bekina said. Sometimes the ‘80s, maybe real oldies, maybe other styles of music.
Friday will be “Island Night,” with Jimmy Buffet and the like on the loudspeakers.
“We’re looking to make a few bucks and get people out. Come and meet your neighbors again,” Bekina said. Breaking out of quarantine makes the time ripe.
“We want to bring a small town feel back to Homer City. But it’s all baby steps.”