Niagara Gazette — Canal Fest premiered a new event on Thursday afternoon with the first Vintage Fire Truck Muster, featuring antique firefighting vehicles from as early as 1872.
Local paid and volunteer fire departments pulled their old vehicles out of service and brought them down to the corner of Broad and Main Streets in Tonawanda for a family-friendly event in an effort to not only switch the Canal Fest schedule up a bit, but also to let people know what they do.
“Something was missing from Thursday night at Canal Fest,” said Dave Nedelle, a volunteer with the City of Tonawanda Fire Department who organized much of the event. “With the Friday Firemen’s Day getting smaller and smaller we thought why can’t we have do this and make it a family-friendly event?”
Nedelle sent out letters to several local fire companies to see if they had any antique trucks they’d like to display. Fire companies from both sides of the canal participated and places further out like Wheatfield and Getzville responded as well.
Parents and grandparents brought children down for a chance to get inside the trucks for a fun little history lesson, children walked around in fire hats and asked questions about the different trucks. Some of the vehicles run, but not all. Some are in various stages of restoration.
“It’s a good way to get fire departments to come out, especially with the volunteer ranks dwindling,” said Adam Berg, a volunteer with North Tonawanda’s Sweeney Hose Company. “We’d like to do more events like this to show people what the fire departments do.”
The event also gives residents a chance to learn more about what the firefighters do, specifically when preparing for situations with a large amount of people in a small, closed off space.