HAMPTON — Firefighters and the town’s Parks and Recreation Department treated senior citizens to strawberry shortcake on the Victoria Inn pavilion Tuesday for their annual Strawberry Festival.

Seniors and their family dined together in the outdoor pavilion as firefighters carried around trays of cake and lemonade, families of firefighters and other department employees chipping in. A guitarist sang songs by artists like Johnny Cash as the seniors enjoyed their shortcake.

Firefighters and attendees say the event helps connect first responders with a population they see often for medical calls.

"The senior citizens have always supported the Fire Department," said retired firefighter Bruce Philbrick.

"We see a lot of (senior citizens) unfortunately in our work and it makes them feel at ease sometimes when they see a familiar face."

Some of the seniors who attended Tuesday said they had been going for years and say they appreciate the event each summer.

"This is a free act of kindness that is always healing to the heart," said Joan Reardon. She said she appreciates the services the firefighters provide in the community.

"You have to be called by God to want to be a firefighter and risk your life," said Reardon. "There's no words to say what they do."

The firefighters and Parks and Recreation Department began holding the event almost 25 years ago, originally inside the Hampton fire station on Winnacunnet Road. They moved it to the pavilion after Tracy Dewhurst bought the inn in 2013.

"I can't think of a better place to do it," said Dewhurst. "It's a nice little team effort between all of us."

Firefighter Matt Newton said the fire station was less than ideal for hosting senior citizens, from its garage floor to the need for firefighters to rush out to calls while guests ate.

"This is set up specifically for events like this," said Newton. "Tracey is so generous."