The most spectacular annual state event for firefighters is being hosted in Carbon County next week.
The Firemen's Association of Pennsylvania is holding its 132nd convention in Lake Harmony on Sept. 21-24.
The Albrightsville and Lake Harmony Fire Companies are hosting the event, which will be highlighted by a multi-division parade on Saturday, the 24th, beginning at 1 p.m.
The parade forms at Lake Harmony Fire Company along Lake Drive and proceeds to the Galleria. The march is 1.8 miles long.
This is the first time in the history of the association, which had its first convention in 1880 in Reading, that the event is being held in Carbon County.
The Somerset Fire Company will be honored as grand marshall of the parade.
Steve Lilick, deputy chief of the Lake Harmony Fire Company and convention chairman, said back in 2001 the Somerset Fire Company was host to the State convention. Then 9/11 occurred and the annual parade had to be canceled.
The Somerset Fire Department was one of the first responders when Flight 93 crashed in a field in Shanksville, Somerset County on Sept. 11, 2001.
At a Memorial Service scheduled Thursday, the ladder trucks of the Somerset and Lake Harmony Fire Departments will form the firefighters' memorial arch. At that time, 22 doves will be released.
Lilick said that on Friday, Sept. 23, at 9 a.m., an Officer's Horn will be presented to the Somerset Fire Company in the Keystone Room of the Galleria.
The site of the convention changes every year. Last year it was staged in Hanover Township, Luzerne County. In 2012 it will be held in Norristown.
It was held in Hazleton in 1944 and 1892, in Allentown in 1957, 1942, 1930, 1920, 1903, and 1887, and in Stroudsburg in 1925.
It has never been held in Schuylkill County.
Bruce Berger, fire chief in Albrightsville, said the idea of hosting the state convention originated with the Albrightsville Fire Company. It was decided to ask Lake Harmony Fire Company to co-host the event. Ralph Lennon, Lake Harmony fire chief then apresented it to his department who went along with the proposal.
Lennon and Mario Alonso of the Albrightsville Fire Company are vice chairmen of the convention.
Joseph Lennon of Lake Harmony Fire Company is parade committee chairman.
The convention officially starts Wednesday, but kicks into full gear on Thursday.
Wednesday's events include a golf tourmanent starting at 11:30 a.m. at Split Rock Golf Club. There is a committee meeting at 7 p.m. and an executive board meeting at 8 p.m.
One of the special events on Thursday, Sept. 22, is an open house at the two host fire companies.
The open house in Albrightsville will be from 5-10 p.m. and include various entertainment including the Jukebox Cruisers, Nightwind, and disc jockey "The Doctor" from Penn's Peak Radio. In addition, the Coors Light Girls will be at the fire house from 6-8 p.m.
There also will be a pig roast, food available for purchase, and inflatable rides for children.
The open house at Lake Harmony Fire Company is from 7-10 p.m. There will be entertainment, a special truck show by Pierce Fire Apparatus, food and beverages, and a special appearance by "The Firehouse Dolls."
During the day on Thursday and Friday, there will be hands-on fire training at the Galleria.
On Thursday, the Memorial Service will take place from 1-2:30 p.m. at the Galleria.
During this service, Wall of Honor bricks to be placed at the National Fallen Firefighters' Memorial in Emmitsburg, Md. will be presented.
Berger said bricks will be presented by the Albrightsville and Lake Harmony Fire Companies.
A fire expo wil be held Friday and Saturday at the Galleria.