Firefighters from a downstate fire company march in the 2011 edition of the annual Hudson Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association full-dress parade, held in Lake George. This year’s convention and parade, the group’s 125th, is to be held this week in Queensbury. The affair includes a four-day carnival, nightly musical entertainment, craft and food vendors, in addition to parades Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.
Featuring a flourish of pomp and pageantry, the Hudson Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association convention and parade return to the town of Queensbury this week.
Thousands of volunteer firefighters from throughout eastern New York are expected to participate in the four-day convention, based at the West Glens Falls Fire Station No. 1 on Luzerne Road at Veterans Road.
The focal point of the weekend activities is the hours-long full-dress parade beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday June 21, as well as a Mardi Gras parade the prior evening at 7 p.m. The parades annually draw many thousands of spectators. A carnival is to be held Wednesday June 18 through Saturday June 21 in conjunction with the convention and parades.
Saturday’s full-dress parade features at least 112 marching units, including firefighters in uniforms — some quite formal, others elaborate. The procession also features dozens of acclaimed marching bands as well as antique fire equipment.
Bill VanNess, Third Assistant Chief of West Glens Falls Fire Co., said the parade will be almost four hours long.
“We extend a warm welcome to all the dedicated volunteer firefighters from eastern New York State as well as area citizens,” he said. VanNess serves on the Queensbury Town Board.
The Mardi Gras Parade is a more informal and festive affair. This annual procession has a new theme: “Traditions run deep,” reflecting the fact that this year’s convention is the firefighters association’s 125th annual convention, HVVFA President Joseph Mellan said. A resident of Glen Spey NY, Mellan is the deputy fire coordinator for Sullivan County.
The HVVFA has about 500 member fire companies, representing as many as 40,000 volunteer firefighters in the 16 counties that border the Hudson River — stretching from the border of New York City north through Essex County, according to George Hill, the association’s financial secretary.
The route for Saturday’s parade begins at the West Glens Falls Fire Station No. 2 on Luzerne Road at Van Dusen Road, and proceeds east on Luzerne Road to the West Glens Falls station No. 1 at the intersection of Luzerne and Veterans roads. The Mardi Gras Parade begins on Luzerne Road at Stephanie Lane and ends at the No. 2 firehouse.
A carnival with amusements and rides is to be open to the public from 5 p.m. onward, Wednesday through Friday. On Saturday, the carnival — which is accompanied by craft and food vendors — opens at noon. There is no admission charge for the events, but those attending are asked to bring non-perishable food items to be donated to local food pantries.
Nightly musical entertainment features four regionally noted bands: Kings English beginning on Wednesday, Funk Evolution on Thursday — both beginning at 7 p.m. — and the Zoo
Band of MTV fame on Thursday starting at 8 p.m., and Skeeter Creek on Saturday also at 8 p.m.
The convention, includes a firematics trade show and a seminar on arson detection as well as association business meetings and election of officers.
The convention ends with fireworks at 9 p.m. Saturday.
Parade & convention may return to Lake George
For decades, the HVVFA convention and parade were held in Lake George Village with robust participation and parades five hours long. In 2002, the HVVFA parade in Lake George featured firefighters from New York City fire companies whose members perished in the Sept. 11 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, and the event drew international attention.
Mellan and Hill said the annual convention and parade are likely to return to Lake George Village, as a multi-year contract is now being negotiated with Lake George officials. Hill said the contract would probably be approved by the HVVFA officers at this week’s convention.
Mellan said that both Queensbury and Lake George are popular destinations with the Hudson Valley firefighters and their family members.
“Our members thoroughly enjoys their visits up there because there’s so much for people to do, whether it’s the attractions in Lake George or the outlet malls in Queensbury.”