PORT JERVIS—In keeping with tradition, the sun shown brightly on Port Jervis’s 165th annual fireman’s Inspection Day Parade on Saturday, a tradition that dates back at least for the 41 years that Dick Drew has been involved.
“It never rains on our parade,” said Drew, the chairman of the parade and the secretary of the Port Jervis Fire Department.
“You want me to let you in on a little secret why it doesn’t rain on our parade? My wife puts rosary beads on the clothesline the week before the parade,” he said.
Whatever the reason, the sun was out in full force all day and temperatures rose into the 80s during the parade. For the marchers who couldn’t escape to the shade however, it felt more like the 90s.
“It’s pretty hot,” said Zach Conklin, a firefighter with the Huguenot Fire Department who was wearing long pants, a blazer, and a hat.
Some speculated that the 10 or so companies that didn’t show up this year might have stayed away because of the heat.
Some 55 fire departments from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania joined the afternoon parade that started on Ball and Sussex streets, and ended on Kingston Avenue and Hamilton Street.
Along the way, some passed out candy while others merely waved or tooted their horns. Horses, bagpipers, children, and soldiers were also in the march, as well as yellow, green, and even blue fire trucks.
“I love watching the firetrucks, they’re my favorite part,” said Debbie Acoveno, a resident of Huguenot who has watched the parade for 27 years straight.
Although the participants were threatened with disqualification for using their sirens during the parade, a few of them did anyway, much to the annoyance of the judges.
“There are so many companies there, you can’t tell who’s doing it,” said parade judge Hank Brisky in exasperation. “I don’t like that, but what are you going to do?”
The parade was preceded by the inspection of the fire equipment at the Port Jervis high school and followed by a 33-trophy awards ceremony at the Port Jervis Fireman’s Museum.
The Scoresby Hose, Hook, and Ladder Company from Ellenville, New York, won the award for Best Overall Company, which was judged by the combined score of the equipment, color guard, and music.
Port Jervis Pride
In a proclamation, Port Jervis Mayor Kelly B. Decker pronounced July 11, 2015 as Port Jervis Volunteer Fire Department Day` and encouraged all residents to show their support for “the brave men and women who gallantly give of themselves to protect our lives and property.”
Port Jervis has seven fire companies in the city and 341 volunteer firefighters. In 2014 they responded to 438 calls, both in Port Jervis and elsewhere.
As the host of the event, Port Jervis was not part of the inspection, but was well represented in the parade. The two grand marshals, John P. Shannon and Robert George Mason have, combined, been with the Port Jervis Fire Department for 106 years and are still part of the Neversink Engine Co. #1.
The first fire company, called the Port Jervis Fire Company No. 1, was established in Port Jervis in 1847, and three years later the first Volunteer Fireman’s Parade was born in 1850.
“Our city takes great pride in the fine tradition of our all-volunteer fire department and sincerely appreciates the efforts of the professional, well trained, and dedicated men and women who serve,” the mayor said in his proclamation.
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