YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – First responders in both Trumbull and Mahoning counties were treated to a free corned beef sandwich on Friday.

Providing active duty firefighters and police officers with a St. Patrick’s Day meal has become a holiday tradition.

Jeffrey Chrystal Catering makes the sandwiches, and Phantom Fireworks pays for the first responders’ meals.

It started in 2020 when just two days before March 17, bars and restaurants were ordered to close for in person dining in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Chrystal says that’s when Phantoms owner Bruce Zoldan suggested giving the sandwiches to first responders –and it’s an idea that’s carried over every year since.

“It’s Phantom’s small way of offering our heartfelt thanks to the Mahoning and Trumbull County police and fire service for their strength, courage and dedication they demonstrate every day in keeping our communities protected and safe,” said Zoldan.

“I always try to help out the police,” Chrystal says. “If you’re out there fighting fires and getting shot, the least thing I can do is give you a sandwich.”

Chrystal says about 150 police officers and firefighters stop in for the sandwhiches each year.