COXSACKIE — Hundreds turned out Saturday for the dress parade that marked the conclusion of the 131st Greene County Volunteer Firemen’s Association convention.
This year’s convention was hosted in Coxsackie by Hose Co. No. 3 on Bailey Street, where the parade wrapped up and the ceremonies were held.
“It’s tough times right now for volunteers, and I think an event like this just shows community spirit and how hard these folks work to put on something like this,” said Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-102. “And in their everyday lives, they are out there protecting us. I was just impressed to see how well the Greene County community came together here in Coxsackie today to celebrate the hard work of these folks and the determination and dedication to their community.”
Volunteers make a big difference in their community, said Cliff Powell, chief of the Greenville Volunteer Fire Company.
“Volunteers are the biggest part of the community,” Powell said after the parade. “If you look at what they save in taxes each year — it’s the backbone of most communities.”
The dress parade was the final event in a week of convention activities — Friday night was the Mardi Gras parade, a lighthearted event in which marchers donned costumes and rode on floats reminiscent of the New Orleans’ Mardi Gras, and before that there were dinners, ceremonies and annual meetings to appoint officers for 2020.
“It’s always fun during convention week,” said Greenville firefighter Andrew Scirico. “I get to see friends in other fire departments and just hang out.”
The parade drew fire companies and auxiliaries from across Greene County, but also from outside county lines. East Greenbush, Saugerties, Coeymans and Ravena were some of the communities that sent marchers to participate.
From Columbia County, there were participants from Hudson and Germantown, and Columbia County Hazmat, among others.
Tracy Alexander was one of two volunteers from the Greenport Fire Department who lent a helping hand to a fellow fire company in Greene County.
“We marched for the Greenville fire department,” Alexander said. “We hired ourselves out for their drum line. They don’t have a drum line so they asked us to help out.”
Hillary Higgins, president of the Round Top Ladies Auxiliary, has been coming to the parade for the past four years.
“This is exciting — our group is a great bunch of women and they wholeheartedly love to do this,” Higgins said. “We all march and we get fully involved. It’s a lot of fun and a great event.”
For some, the parade is a family affair.
“I brought my daughters, and one of them marched alongside us and helped pick up drumsticks as they fell from the drumline,” said Amy Eggleston, secretary of the Cornell Hook and Ladder Auxiliary. “It’s great to see all these fire companies and meet new people.”