HANOVER TWP. — Mother Nature cooperated with the firemen participating in the 115th annual Six County Firemen’s Convention in Hanover Township on Saturday afternoon.
“Early on, we didn’t think it was going to be a good day with thunderstorms threatening,” Hanover Township Fire Lt. Chris Halecki said. “It didn’t matter once we saw the people lining up on the street and sitting on their porches, it turned out to be great.”
To conclude the three-day Six County Firemen’s Convention, over 130 fire departments from Luzerne, Lackawanna, Columbia, Montour, Schuylkill and Northumberland counties participated in the parade as well as a fire department from New Jersey.
The two-and-a-half-hour ride did not faze officers attending the parade from Wallington, New Jersey.
“You make friends in different places,” Wallington Fire Captain William Kulaf said. “We’ve actually been going to events in Hanover Township for about 40 years. We go to their events and they come to ours.”
“It’s very nice to see the different communities come together and interact with their fire departments,” he added. “At the end of the day, we are all family.”
Privately owned antique fire apparatus, pipe and drum bands, marching bands and local groups that specialize in public safety and community service also participated in the parade.
Afterward, members of the Hanover Area Quarterbacks Club and local Boy Scout troop held a barbecue on the grounds of the Hanover Area Fire District Social Hall to raise money for their respective groups.
“It gives our guys kind of a break so they can enjoy themselves and mingle with everyone here,” Lt. Halecki said. “The guys can then concentrate on gathering and handing out (parade) awards later on.”
Halecki said firefighters were overwhelmed by the outpouring of community support.
“It was great to see the people of Hanover Township line the streets and support their fire department and the Six County Firemen’s Association,” Halecki said.
“To see the look and pride on everyone’s faces when we were marching down with the honor guard was special,” he continued. “The hand salutes from military personnel and other firefighters was nice to see and it’s the reason and tradition why we do it to honor those who have gone before us.”
Fourteen members of the Scranton Black Diamonds Pipe Band helped honor the memory of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
“Amazing Grace is synonymous with the bag pipes,” band drum major Richard Bowen said. “Whatever parade we attend, it’s one of the first requests we always get.”
Bowen spoke highly of Saturday’s experience.
“It was fantastic marching along the parade route,” he said. “I think the people who came out really enjoyed our music and watching all the fire departments go by.”