GOOD NEWS!: Hundreds march in annual firefighters’ dress parade

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Convention honors Greenville’s Firefighters of the Year

By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

A truck from the Greenville Fire District makes its way down the parade route Saturday. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

CAIRO — Hundreds of firefighters and auxiliary members marched in the 134th annual dress parade of the Greene County Volunteer Firemen’s Association convention as crowds lined the streets and cheered.

The parade, held Sept. 10, was the culmination of several days of ceremonies, dinners and meetings, with the fun-filled Mardi Gras parade on Friday evening and the dress parade Saturday afternoon.

Fire companies from across Greene County marched, along with neighboring Coeymans, Ravena and Westerlo fire departments, and beyond.

The U.S. Marine Corps Marching Band was the first marching unit, providing patriotic entertainment. Numerous marching bands performed, including a fife and drum corps from Delmar marching in colonial garb.

The start of the parade was delayed by about 20 minutes as there was a medical issue for an individual on the parade route, and the Greenville Rescue Squad ambulance rushed to the scene to provide care, parade announcer Ed Kostek, from Capital District Fire Buffs, told the crowd.

The Cairo Hose Company hosted this year’s parade. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

Several official parade judges from the Inter-County Volunteer Parade Judges Association were also in the crowd judging marchers and fire trucks. The group travels around New York and New Jersey judging parades and determining award winners.

“We judge everything from uniformity of their uniforms to the way they march, making sure everyone is in step, everyone is in a straight line, lines are straight across, front to back,” said Inter-County Volunteer Parade Judges Association President Kenny Gordon. “Trucks are judged for cleanliness and if they are fire-ready.”

The organization will judge nearly a dozen parades in 2022, the organization’s vice president, Danielle Glynn, said.

“This year we will judge about 10 parades,” Glynn said. “Next week we will do Sullivan County, then Orange County, then Sussex County, New Jersey.”

Fire equipment dating back to the 1800s from the Cairo department. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

This year’s Greene County convention also honored two Greene County Firefighters of the Year, both from Greenville.

“On Thursday night at the 134th Greene County Volunteer Firemen’s Association meeting, Chief (Clifton ‘Kip’) Drollette and 1st Assistant Chief (Clif) Powell (III) were honored with the Greene County Firefighter of the Year award for their Dec. 23, 2021, rescue of an elderly woman that was unconscious in a house fire in the Freehold Fire District,” the Greenville Volunteer Fire Company said in a statement.

Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-102, and numerous county legislators, including Legislators Harry Lennon and Sherry True of Cairo, where the parade was held, marched and waved to the crowd.

The annual convention was hosted this year by the Greene County Volunteer Fireman’s Association and the organization’s Ladies Auxiliary. The village of Athens and the Athens Fire Department held the dinner and meeting portion of the convention on Tuesday through Thursday at the Athens firehouse and the town of Cairo and Cairo Hose Co. held the Mardi Gras and dress parades in Cairo on Friday and Saturday.

Tague said in a statement Drollette and Powell were heroes for their bravery and courage, and that first responders display those traits every day, putting their lives on the line for their community.

“It is because of the brave actions of our volunteers that many of our neighbors have faced danger and lived to tell the tale,” Tague said, “so I thank them and all of our first responders for all they do and sacrifice to be there to save lives when people need them most.”

Dozens of fire departments and auxiliaries showed off their best at Saturday’s dress parade. For some families, service to community has become a family tradition.

Jeri Hotaling, a Life Member of the Greene County Auxiliary and 50-year member of Coxsackie’s Hose 3 Ladies Auxiliary, said many members of her family are in fire service, including her husband, who has been with the company for 60 years.

“We come every year to all of the Greene County convention parades,” Hotaling said. “This is wonderful — we see a lot of people that we haven’t seen in a long time when we come out to the parade and we just have a grand time. I have my grandson with me, my daughter-in-law — she is also a member of Hose 3. We have lots of other members — it’s a family affair.”

Check out more photos from Saturday’s parade:

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