Comet Zone supports Mason Fire Department

Lily Samuel (left) and Elise Barry (right) hang up the newest Comet Zone sign

Megan Lee | Staff Writer

After years of supporting local Mason organizations, Mason High School’s (MHS) one-stop spirit shop, The Comet Zone, decided to take things in a different direction. 

Every year, during homecoming season, The Comet Zone leads a fundraiser to support a local Mason organization. Previously, The Comet Zone has dedicated their homecoming proceeds to foundations such as Shine Like Sable and Love Like JJ, both nonprofit organizations that were founded after the tragic deaths of Mason students and hit close to home in the Mason community. This year, however, the Comet Zone changed course and is partnering with Mason City Fire Department, a drastic change from years past.

Senior Elise Barry, the Special Orders Manager of The Comet Zone, said the switch to the fire department was not only a change for the community, but for all of The Comet Zone staff members as well.

 “We always put in a lot of work to our homecoming campaigns,” Barry said. “So to have [that work] go into a cause that we’ve never done before makes everyone excited.”

While the Comet Zone staff was happy to shine a light on a new operation, it reminded them how important past fundraisers are to the program. Barry said organizations such as Shine like Sable and Love like JJ will always be a staple in the Mason community. 

“What we were able to do as a school for those causes was so powerful,” Barry said. “I think that sponsoring the fire department this year allowed us to do the same for them.”

Senior Sonali Dasari, the acting Operations Manager of The Comet Zone, said she entered her second year on the Comet Zone staff hoping to lead a successful homecoming campaign. With her experience on the 2021 homecoming campaign, Dasari knows firsthand the impact the annual fundraiser has on the chosen organization.

“Every year when we do a homecoming [fundraiser], we try to keep it a charity as local as possible,” Dasari said. “[With the fire department], we saw a perfect way to give back to our community.”

Despite the impact of campaigns such as Shine like Sable and Love like JJ, the choice to change focus to the fire department directly impacts the City of Mason. During Fire Prevention Week, which took place October 9 to October 15 in 2022, the fire department ran a Smoke Detector Blitz campaign. Chief Deputy Nathaniel Wyatt said the campaign spread awareness about fire safety to Mason citizens and provided upkeep for those who may not be able to afford it.

“We [went] into the city, knocked on doors and made sure everybody had a working smoke detector,” Wyatt said. “If [someone] didn’t have a smoke detector, we installed one for free.” 

Providing the Mason community with working smoking detectors allowed the fire department to raise awareness of fire safety. Wyatt said he was excited to see the students’ enthusiasm to support the fire department.

“The fire department is a service that everybody needs,” Wyatt said. “But [no one] thinks about us until [they] pick up the phone to call 911.”

As a city-funded facility, city laws initially barred the Mason Fire Department from accepting donations from The Comet Zone. Through communications with Mason City Council, however, Wyatt and The Comet Zone staff were able to come up with a way to use the funding to impact the everyday citizens of Mason. This year, all proceeds went to buying smoke alarms and batteries for Mason houses that do not have one, making Mason a safer place.

“We knew that if there was any donation coming in, we were going to use it for the citizens,” Wyatt said. “They are what is most important.”

The Comet Zone campaign also focused on bringing awareness to MHS students of all that the fire department does for their safety. The Comet Zone advisor, Dr. Carmen Scalfaro, recently had his house struck by lightning and wanted to give back to the firefighters that helped him and his family. Scalfaro said he was proud of the staff’s decision to choose a different path.

“Every community has a fire department,” Scalfaro said. “It has been fun to provide our support to an organization that is always so helpful to everyone else.”

Without the hardworking members of The Comet Zone, the idea of the fundraiser would not have become a reality. Scalfaro said they took the change in direction in stride and expressed his gratitude to the whole Comet Zone staff, especially members Alexa Crociata and Sonali Dasari. 

“They have taken an idea and made it a reality,” Scalfaro said. “Their hearts are in the right place, and they want to help give back to our community.” 

Along with the rest of his staff, Scalfaro is excited to see the success of this year’s homecoming campaign in action. Scalfaro said that knowing that the Mason community cares for his safety makes it feel more like home.

“To have seen such an excellent fire department fighting to save a house that was on fire was an eye-opening experience,” Scalfaro said. “[Once] I saw them working together and putting everything they had into their jobs, I knew they deserved support.”

Photo by Megan Lee