Firefighters add 9/11 memorial to parade

The annual firefighters’ dress parade, shown in a 2019 file photo, will be held in New Baltimore this weekend. File photo

NEW BALTIMORE — About 250 of Greene County’s bravest will gather in New Baltimore on Saturday for the annual dress parade, capping nearly a week of convention activities.

Following the parade, the county will hold a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa.

The convention, including the Mardi Gras and dress parades, is hosted by the Greene County Volunteer Firemen’s Association and is hosted by a different county fire company each year to gather firefighters, auxiliary and fire police and showcase their accomplishments.

The convention was canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

This year, the nearly week-long convention is being hosted by Cornell Hook and Ladder in New Baltimore.

“On Tuesday we had our ladies [auxiliary] dinner and that went over good. There were approximately 127 auxiliary members there,” Cornell Hook and Ladder Assistant Fire Chief Scott Van Wormer said Thursday. “Tonight is the men’s dinner and meeting, and 250 firefighters signed up. On Friday we will have the Mardi Gras [parade] and that starts at 6:30 p.m. and ends at the park on New Baltimore Road.”

The final, and largest, convention event is the dress parade that typically draws hundreds of marchers and spectators lining the parade route.

“The dress parade is the biggest event,” Van Wormer said. “That will be Saturday with step-off at 2 p.m.”

There will be musical performances after both parades.

“Both nights after the parade there will be bands playing at the park,” Van Wormer said. “On Friday, Skeeter Creek will perform and on Saturday night it will be The Refrigerators.”

Marchers will line up on Route 144 about 1:30 p.m. Saturday and march from the Albany County line to Gill Road.

Route 144 will have one-way traffic during line-up and will be closed about 1:45 p.m. to make way for the parade, Van Wormer said.

Route 9W will not be directly affected, but may see additional traffic as drivers are detoured due to the parade, he added.

“I believe there will be close to 30 fire companies coming from Greene, Albany, Ulster and Rensselaer counties,” Van Wormer said.

The convention also celebrates a milestone for the host fire company.

“When they planned this, they volunteered to have the convention this year because it is the 125th anniversary for Cornell Hook and Ladder, not realizing at the time it would be the 20th anniversary of 9/11,” Greene County Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger, R-New Baltimore, said.

Fire companies are an integral component in local communities, he said.

“One hundred twenty-five years is a long time to provide volunteer service. It is very commendable,” Linger said. “A lot of our small towns, most of what the town needs is provided by the fire company or the church. When the community needs something, when a solution comes out, it always seems to come down to the local fire company or the church, or both. They always seem to step up and help.”

After the dress parade, first responders will pay tribute to those lost in the 9/11 attacks.

“On Saturday, after the parade at approximately 5 p.m., the county will be having a 9/11 ceremony,” Van Wormer said. “This year, we will also have a 30-piece Marine band and they will take part in the 9/11 ceremony.”

Town Supervisor Jeff Ruso welcomed the convention and said the parade will enable the town to show off some of its best.

“Our fire company, in my opinion, is one of the best fire companies I know of,” Ruso said. “They care about the community and this gives us the opportunity to show everyone else what we have. They set a high standard, and this is a good showcase for what they do.”

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