DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — Every year, the emergency services of Decatur and Macon County take part in the Gurney, Guns and Hoses contest. The contest is simple: first responders ring bells for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign and whichever service raises the most money is declared the winner and receives a traveling trophy.
The Decatur Police Department won the 2021 edition of the contest, its first win in six years.
The contest took place on Dec. 9, 10 and 11 outside the city’s Walmart and Sam’s Club stores and at the Salvation Army’s annual gala. Decatur Ambulance, Police and Fire, Macon County Fire and the Macon County Sheriff’s office collectively raised more than $13,000 across 73 total hours of bell ringing.
In the end, Decatur Police raised $4,654.03 to claim victory. They received their trophy on Tuesday.
At the presentation, Police Chief Shane Brandel leveled some serious accusations against Decatur Fire, who had won the previous five contests.
“I’m pretty sure that they like to take money out of our buckets and put it into theirs,” Brandel said. “We haven’t figured out how they’re doing it yet, but regardless, this year, we were able to stop it and come out the victors.”
Decatur Fire chaplain Josh Jackson issued a response to the cheating allegations, saying “If they want to trash talk, they better get it all in. Because if history is any indicator they aren’t going to win again for a while.”
Joking aside, Brandel said it was a great mission to get behind.
“We’re glad to be able to help out and that the people of Decatur supported the efforts of the Salvation Army,” Brandel said. “All the money stays here local and that’s what’s important.”
The Salvation Army echoed that sentiment in a press release.
“While we name a winner, it is really the community that is the winner knowing that the dollars raised will assist families with challenges and needs that may arise in the year to come,” the Salvation Army said. “Each and every hour that was given by all of the First Responders raised precious supportive dollars for our community. Thank you to each group and each bell ringer who gave of their time for this year’s bell ringing… and thank you to all that made a donation to this year’s Gurneys, Guns, & Hoses Bell Ringing.”