The Connecticut State Fire Association’s 129th annual Convention and Parade begins today in North Haven.
According to Chief Vincent Landisio, North Haven asked to host the annual event 10 years ago because 2012 coincides with the 100th anniversary of the town’s fire department.
Between 2,500 to 3,000 firefighters from across the state are expected to attend.
The parade steps off Sunday, Sept. 16 at noon.
That two-mile parade will gather at before exiting onto Bailey Road from the . It will proceed north on Shawmut Avenue and up Church Street to Washington Avenue before concluding at the North Haven Fairgrounds.
According to Ron Mattei, the volunteer lieutenant firefighter in charge of the organizing committee, the parade will include antique as well as contemporary fire trucks, the Connecticut Horse Guard, firefighters from 60 departments from as far as Maine, fife and drum bands, and a host of dignitaries, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman among them, in the reviewing stands.
“Oh, it’s going to be a big one. Three or four hours long,” he said of the parade.
Mattei said a number of antique fire trucks in the parade will come from North Haven. He said that one North Haven volunteer company “is working feverishly to get a 1925 American LaFrance fire truck restored. It will be there,” he said.
The 1925 fire truck was slated to be discarded before it came to North Haven roughly 25 years ago, according to Joseph Munzner. "We decided to restore it in a burst of energy," said Munzer who, like Mattei, is a member of the
“It’s the biggest parade the town has ever hosted,” Mattei said. He said he expected 5,000-plus spectators at the event, with three exits on I-91 — exit 11 and exit 12 north and south — shut down during the parade. The parade route will also be closed.
During the parade, Connecticut parade marshalls will judge all the fire departments for the 40 trophies the firefighters will receive.
Just before the fairgrounds, Mattei said, two ladder trucks will hoist an American flag over Washington Avenue, and the Connecticut Patriot Guards will greet everyone who attends the events at the North Haven Fairgrounds with hand flags.
There, the display will include the fire trucks as well as roughly vendors, including food vendors, arts-and-crafts vendors, representatives from non-profit organizations and fire service vendors displaying helmets and other fire department gear.
Also open to the public during the weekend’s events is a Saturday night gala at the , which is serving as the host hotel for the weekend. The gala, which will last from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., will include a performance by singing comedian John Valby as well as North Haven resident Billy Winn. Tickets are $20 for the event.
To defray the $75,000 cost of the weekend, which will also include firefighter meetings for such events as the election of officers, the town is providing $25,000 in in-kind services. The fairgrounds is also providing its property at no charge, Mattei said.
The membership of the Connecticut State Fire Association consists of 22,000 volunteer firefighter members and 4,400 career firefighters. It serves as the source for federal and state initiatives, firefighter death and disability benefits claims and information relative to, according to its website.
Anyone wishing to support the event by purchasing items from an online store set up by the North Haven Fire Department may visit the website for the event.