Tonawanda News

Local News

June 15, 2013

Parade of history

TRADITION: Firemen's Day Parade hits NT, Tonawanda streets for 133rd year.

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When the first Firemen’s Day Parade in the Tonawandas stepped off, Rutherford B. Hayes was president of the United States, Thomas Edison had just created the first functioning light bulb ... and the gunfight at the O.K. Corral hadn’t even happened yet.

A lot of history, both local and otherwise, will be marching with the 133rd annual Fireman’s Day Parade today in North Tonawanda and the City of Tonawanda. The parade will begin at 2 p.m. at Thompson Street and Payne Avenue in North Tonawanda, then proceed south on Payne, west on Goundry Street, south on Webster Street, across the bridge into Tonawanda and finally, to Main and Broad streets in the City of Tonawanda.

North Tonawanda Fire Chief John Lapham said the six NT volunteer companies — Columbia Hook & Ladder Co. No. 1,  Active Hose Co. No., 2 Live Hose Co. No. 4, Rescue Fire Co. No. 5, Gratwick Hose Co. No. 6, Sweeney Hose Co. No. 7 — and a unit of the city’s career firefighters will be marching in the parade.

From the City of Tonawanda, Fire Chief Charles Stuart said that the four volunteer companies — Union Hook and Ladder No. 1, National Hose No. 1, Delaware House No. 2 and Niagara Hose No. 3 — will take part, as will the career division, members of City of Tonawanda Professional Firefighters Local 859.

While the NT companies are expected to field 250 to 300 people for the event, with about 75 from the City of Tonawanda, the parade has nonetheless grown smaller over the years, Lapham said.

“Back in the heyday, it was nothing unusual for each company to turn out over 100 people themselves, so you would have over 1,000 in line,” he said. “It’s a national trend and it’s been that way for 20-plus years. People don’t volunteer as much. Double-income families make it difficult to volunteer. It makes it difficult to find the time.”

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