Meadville Tribune

Organizers of Meadville’s second time hosting the annual Pennsylvania State Firemen’s Convention and Parade are hoping for another success as hundreds of fire departments from around the state are expected to gather here later this month.

Setting up the event, now in its 135th year, over the past several months has been a massive undertaking for the convention committee, made up of members from the Crawford County Fireman’s Association (CCFA) and West Mead Township No. 2 fire department, according to Chuck Prenatt, parade committee member.

“It’s been a lot of work, but it’s all coming together now,” he said. “It was hard to envision it like this a year back.”

Most of the area’s hotels and accommodations are booked for the convention, which begins Sept. 24 with registration and meetings and concludes after the parade Sept. 27, Prenatt said.

“Thankfully there weren’t any big issues,” said Brian Knickerbocker, conference committee chair and CCFA president. “The city has been more than willing to work with us and (local) fire departments have been very cooperative and helpful.”

The community has also shown much-needed support sought by organizers since the beginning.

Prominent examples include the Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau putting together a convention pamphlet, local businesses donating water and other products and fire departments offering food and drink specials for attending firefighters, Knickerbocker said. “We’ve also gotten a good response for the ad book,” he added.

One of the organizers’ main goals will be to promote training sessions for firefighters and the culminating parade for the public.

“We have some very good speakers lined up for the convention,” Knickerbocker said, including Kim O’Malley of the National Fire Protection Association, Mike Dugan of the New York City Fire Department, Dave Gallagher of Boston, Mass., and Jim Crawford of Midway, S.C.

Keynote speakers are expected to offer training and safety presentations organizers believe will be of great benefit to attending firefighters.

The parade will begin at 1 p.m. on Sept. 27. Entries will line up on Bessemer Street, then follow the parade route from Terrace Street to Market and Chestnut streets up to Diamond Park. After circling the Diamond, the route will proceed down South Main Street.

Registration is at the Days Inn during the week and at Seco/Warwick from 7 to 11 a.m. Saturday. Judging will take place at Penn Plaza from 7 a.m. to noon Saturday.

An awards ceremony will be held at the Vantage parking area across from Channellock.

“Nonprofits, fair queens and other groups are more than welcome to participate,” Prenatt said. “We’d appreciate a heads up, but we’ll take entries just about up to the start of the parade.”

Any businesses or organizations wishing to make a commercial parade entry can contact Prenatt at charlesprenatt@zoominternet.net.

Other points of interest include an open-to-the-public memorial service for fallen firefighters at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 25 at the Days Inn and award presentations at 2 p.m. the following day.

“The convention committee members are planning an enjoyable and productive convention,” Knickerbocker said. “We look forward to visiting with our brother and sister firefighters from across the great commonwealth to learn and discuss new and old issues facing our profession.”

Proceeds from the convention will help support the Fire Safety Trailer, which provides safety demonstrations, and annual high school senior scholarship programs, Knickerbocker said.

Support checks may still be sent to Crawford County Firemen’s Association in care of Tom Chalmers, 20607 Ryan Road, Meadville.

You can go

The 135th Annual Convention of the Firemen’s Association of Pennsylvania is Sept. 24 to 27 in Meadville, hosted by the Crawford County Firemen’s Association. Proceeds from the convention will help fund fire safety presentations and scholarship programs.

The convention will conclude with a parade of entries from all over the state on Sept. 27.

Parade registration is at the Days Inn in Vernon Township during the convention and at the Big Lots parking lot by the Downtown Mall from 7 to 11 a.m. Parade judging is at Penn Plaza from 7 a.m. to noon.

The parade starts at 1 p.m. and the lineup is on Bessemer Street. The parade will to from Bessemer to Terrace to Market to Chestnut Street, around Diamond Park and to South Main Street.

Konstantine Fekos can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kfekos@meadvilletribune.com.

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