KULPMONT — Kulpmont100 Inc. added to its list of successful projects Saturday with its inaugural First Responders Day parade and musical salute.
Despite the threat of rain at the outset of the 1 p.m. event, a crowd was on hand to witness the procession that included bands, marching groups and a long line of fire engines, emergency response vehicles and members of state and local law enforcement units.
The 40-minute parade down Chestnut Street (Route 61), the main thoroughfare in the borough, had every firefighting organization and emergency medical group from the immediate area represented.
Dave Shinskie, a retired state police officer who is secretary of Kulpmont100, said the observance, just three days before the 17th anniversary of 9/11 was intended to raise awareness and support of first responders and law enforcement officials. It included a musical salute after the parade at the West End Fire Association grounds.
Kulpmont fire chief and Shamokin police Patrolman Raymond Siko II drove through the parade in a Shamokin Police Department cruiser and said it felt good to see the “great turnout,” not only by emergency services, but also “people of our community and surrounding communities (showing) their support for all emergency responders.”
As the fire chief, Siko said, “I can’t begin to thank Kulpmont100 for organizing this and doing this to recognize our responders, fire police and EMS. As everyone knows, it’s a thankless job, and for these people to come forward and recognize everyone like they did, I can’t say enough about the gratitude I have for these guys.”
Rain holds off
Dark clouds loomed overhead while units scheduled to participate in the parade gathered on Fifth Street at the east end of the borough. But as the procession moved down Chestnut Street, only light rain fell.
Led by Kulpmont Our Boys’ Band, a Kulpmont police cruiser and a mounted state police honor guard, the parade included Mount Carmel Area High School Band and several marching groups, among which were Kulpmont Youth Football League officials and players, and a special appearance by students from the St. Louis de Montfort Academy in Herndon. Also attracting attention was the performance of Emelia Adam, of Hamburg, a national twirling champion who tossed flaming batons.
More than 50 fire engines, ambulances and emergency squad vehicles were part of the parade. State police as well as municipal police from every community in the area participated.
Grand marshal proud
Chet Guard, a U.S. Navy veteran, firefighter and a member of Kulpmont’s fire departments and civic organizations, served as grand marshal. He rode along with his daughter, Diane Brennan, of Tucson, Arizona, in an antique car driven by Joe Cesari, a Kulpmont resident who is active in planning community events and fundraisers.
Gard, 92, said being asked to grand marshal the parade was a honor, and he’s proud to have been a part of it.
He joined the fire department after leaving the military after 28 months of service in 1946, and it became a lifelong passion to serve, he said.
“To me, in my heart, it was number one, really, and that’s what this parade way about today,” said Gard.