ATHENS — The Athens Volunteer Fire Department will be carrying on the annual tradition of having a week-long convention of local fire departments next week.
The 130th Greene County Firemen’s Association (GCVFA) Convention will be held at the Athens Volunteer Fire Department, 39 Third St., from Sept. 4-8. The convention allows local volunteer firefighters to get together for meetings, dinners, awards and parades.
“It’s a week-long celebration,” said Adam Greco, co-chairman of the 2018 GCVFA Convention.
His brother, John Greco, is also co-chairman of the event.
“It’s a yearly event for all the companies to come together, conduct business, elect officers,” John Greco said.
The first GCVFA Convention was held in 1889, Adam Greco said.
This is not the first year the event has been hosted by the 213-year-old department in Athens.
“We hosted it in 2005 and in 2011, we hosted it with West Athens,” Adam Greco said.
The Athens firehouse submitted its request to host the 2018 convention to the association back in 2014, said John Greco, which allowed them a few years to prepare.
“Our convention committee was formed after last year’s convention,” said John Greco.
The committee later elected him and Adam to be co-chairs, he said.
The event brings Greene County volunteer firefighters together.
Coxsackie Fire Chief Shawn Burdick will be attending the event. Burdick is looking forward to enjoying the week, he said.
Firefighter John Farrell of the West Athens Lime Street Fire Department will be unable to attend this year, he said.
“It looks like they have nice plans and nice events,” Farrell said.
Many other firemen will be at the event, which runs from Tuesday through the dress parade Saturday.
“We’re expecting 5,000 to 7,000 people,” Adam Greco said, adding that the convention was funded in part by selling ads to local businesses for the department’s “ad book.”
The convention will kick off with the GCVFA Ladies Auxiliary meeting on Tuesday.
“On Wednesday, the Ladies Auxiliary will have a murder mystery-themed dinner at 6 p.m.,” Adam Greco said, adding that The Murder Mystery Company from Philadelphia will be performing.
On Thursday, the GCVFA men’s dinner will be from 5–7 p.m., followed by their meeting at 8 p.m.
“Awards will be handed out and issues within Greene County will be discussed,” he said.
All the meetings and dinners will take place at the firehouse.
The annual Mardi Gras parade will be on Friday, followed by the dress parade Saturday. Both parades are open to the public.
“The streets will be lined with spectators for both parades,” Adam Greco said. “We welcome everyone to the parade.”
The first parade requires departments to get crafty.
“Departments will have circus-themed floats in the [Mardi Gras] parade,” he said.
The parade will begin at the Athens Elementary School, 51 Third St., at 6 p.m, Adam said.
“The parade will go down Second Street to South Franklin Street and back to Third, ending at the firehouse,” Adam said.
At the firehouse, hot dogs and refreshments will be served and The Digits, an Athens rock band, will be performing from 6-9 p.m., he added.
The dress parade, where all association members will be in uniform, will begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday on State Route 385 near the Sleepy Hollow Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant, Adam Greco said.
“The parade will go down 385, up Second Street to South Vernon Street and then onto Third Street, ending at the firehouse,” he said, adding there will be a viewing area at Stewart’s Shop on Route 385 and judging will take place at the American Legion Hall on Second Street.
“The U.S. Marine Corps Band from Cherry Point, North Carolina, will lead the parade,” Adam Greco said, adding that members from Orange, Columbia and Ulster counties will also be participating.
“The parade is meant to honor those who came before us and that allow us to keep doing what we’re doing,” John said.
Again, the firehouse will serve hot dogs and refreshments after the parade and the Paul Luke Band from the Hudson Valley will perform its signature “Catskill Mountain Rock” from 1-6 p.m.
The departments in the parade will be judged on their units and apparatus.
“For the conclusion, we will be handing out a whole slew of awards at 6 p.m.,” Adam Greco said.
“When the convention comes to Athens, we do our best to make it enjoyable and memorable,” concluded John Greco.
*Editor's note: This story corrects an earlier version. The Digits is a local rock band from Athens, not Washington.