DES MOINES, Iowa -- "It's pretty cool, I've never skated somewhere where hockey players actually play," said 11 year-old Taylor Beron.
The 5th grader is the son of Urbandale Reserve Police Officer Eric Beron. Taylor was excited to be playing before the Iowa Wild hockey game at Wells Fargo Arena. "We're preparing the ice for them," he said.
From 5 - 6:00 PM, all local heroes and their families were welcome to skate for free. Skates were made available to police officers, firefighters, and local paramedics and their families.
"I think it shows wonderful support to our wonderful men and women in blue who do so much to protect us and lay their lives on the line, and this is just a chance for those families to come out and just kind of have a good time and celebrate their family member who is part of the force," said Carol Parrott, Officer Beron's mother-in-law.
There was an amazing display of unity before the game, as both teams stood side by side to hold the American flag, along with the Color Guard as local students sang "God Bless America."
"What you saw out there was presenting the colors with the giant flag at center ice, and you know, it was just really a neat part for our players to join them in solidarity and then the visiting team to join as well, too, was quite a special moment," said Iowa Wild President Todd Frederickson.
Also before the game, families of five fallen local police officers the community lost last year were welcomed to be a part of a special puck drop.
"We're going into 2017, and it hasn't stopped, I mean the support we're getting from the community is awesome," said Sergeant Paul Parizek of the Des Moines Police Department. "This is just another example of the community connection that our sport franchises have in Des Moines, you know, we've got some wonderful teams. We've got some great venues. They connect with the community all the time and it's really nice for them to come out and support us tonight and give us this opportunity to thank the community, also."
That bond was on display on Monday, when the Iowa Wild hockey team visited the Des Moines and Urbandale Police Departments. During that visit and tour, Des Moines Police Chief Dana Wingert addressed the hockey team, saying, "We had a rough year. You guys stepping up, that really lifts our spirits, you know, it makes us feel good. It gives some of our employees a chance to go out and kind of unwind, you know, watch a good hockey team and just kind of be together in a non-official way, so it means a lot to us. That's a class act, it’s an absolute class act, so I want to thank you all for that."
Mike Weber, a Defenseman and Captain of the Iowa Wild, voiced his strong support for the police.
"I mean these guys have had a few officers pay the ultimate price for us, to protect our community here, and it's just a nice opportunity to get out and show them our support and then to see how they support us."