CARY – Although it literally rained on the Cary Fire Protection District’s Centennial Parade, the weather did not put a damper on the enthusiasm of those in attendance. The department has been in business since 1913 and Saturday’s festivities celebrated its 100th year of service.
More than 30 fire protection vehicles wound their way from First Street in a procession, sirens crying out in celebration.
Umbrellas lined the streets where Cary residents smiled and waved to local and visiting firefighters to the sound of music from the Cary-Grove High School band.
Patrick and Carrie Green positioned themselves under a large tree along the parade route to keep the soaking to a minimum. Daughters Emily and Addison twirled their umbrellas in anticipation of the parade start.
“It’s really important for the girls to understand that the firefighters are here to protect them and take care of the community,” Patrick Green said. “There’s a lot of history in some of the vehicles and the girls really wanted to see the firetrucks.”
Carrie Green’s father is a firefighter in Syracuse, N.Y., and she said she thinks it’s important that Cary celebrate their local heroes. Emily, 7, enjoyed getting her picture taken in “Jessica,” a pink firetruck used to promote breast cancer awareness, and Addison, 5, was hoping to take home some parade candy.
The rain ended and the parade wrapped up at Cary-Grove High School, where the trucks were put on display for attendees to take a look. Attractions included the RESCUE 5 truck, which was damaged at Ground Zero on Sept. 11, 2001, but has since been restored. Children clamored for a chance to meet the firefighters, climb on the trucks and sit in the driver’s seat.
Cary Fire Protection District Lt. Mike Douglass was one of the firefighters on site, keeping an ear close to his radio while answering questions and greeting residents.
“The people of Cary should be proud of their department,” Douglass said. “100 years is quite a milestone and shows the dedication we have to our town, especially since 90 percent of our staff is on a part-time volunteer basis.”
Volunteer firefighter EMT Randy Franz will soon celebrate his 18th year with the Cary department. He said that he feels a great sense of pride and camaraderie within his department.
“We have a lot of fun but we take our job very seriously,” Franz said. “We don’t settle for anything less than the best we can possibly do.”
Franz’s daughter, Chelsea DeBall, came to celebrate her father’s work, rushing up to him upon arriving and giving him a large, heartfelt hug.
“He’s been a firefighter since I was 5 and it’s the coolest thing to be able to tell people that my dad is a fireman,” DeBall said. “Our family spends a lot of nights worrying but we’re always so happy when he comes home. He’s our real-life Superman.”