Manchester Fire Department holds 125th anniversary parade

By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews
Manchester - posted Wed., Oct. 16, 2013
Manchester’s Eighth Utilities District rolled out the antique fire trucks for the parade. Photos by Lisa Stone.
Manchester’s Eighth Utilities District rolled out the antique fire trucks for the parade. Photos by Lisa Stone.

The Eighth Utilities District Fire Department's 125th anniversary parade stepped off from Manchester High School on Oct. 13 and ended at the intersection of Main and Hilliard streets. Spectators lined the streets anxiously awaiting the spectacular show of trucks, lights and horns.

This year’s grand marshal was Lt. Raymond Lukas, who, at 88, was honored by the department for all of the years of service. Lukas' granddaughter Ashley Burger, also a firefighter, escorted him down the road.

“I had been with the eighth district for 61 years,” said Lukas. “I remember some terrible fires from back in my time as a firefighter. The fire at the Bon Ami Plant in the north end of Manchester was one of the worst fires that I was a part of fighting. There were many bad fires, but that one was the worst. We all came home though. That was what was really important.”

When asked what he does these days to keep busy, Lukas replied, “I have a paper route. My daughter drives me and I do my route every day except Sundays.”

This year's parade committee chairman, Ryan Bilodeau, reported that more than 40 organizations marched in the parade. The Manchester Regional Police and Fire Pipe Band set the traditional tone for the day. The bagpipes sounded and the drums rolled as the band strolled down the street in classic kilts and accessories.

“We came from two streets over to set up our lawn chairs for the best spot we could find,” said Carol Opito. “My son, Nick, likes the fire trucks. We all have a great time. We try to see the parade each year.”

Once again, the Patriot Guard Riders showed up to lend their support to a public display of appreciation for a government branch. The riders pulled up the rear of the parade while monitoring the safety of the marchers. This is a group of retired veterans that ride their motorcycles to events in an effort to keep the peace. They are always welcome to any event. One woman ran over to one of the riders while they were stopped and said, “Thank you for all that your group does.”

The rider’s response was, “It’s our honor, Madam.”

When the parade came to an end, there were hamburgers and hot dogs and other snacks and drinks available for the marchers. The food was provided by the Eighth District Fire Department. Dispatcher Robert Turcotte was assigned the duty of running the dinner tent, due to the fact that he previously owned his own catering business, Bobby J’s.

“I have been the dispatcher for the Eighth District Fire Station since 1978,” said Turcotte. “I have always worked in the eighth district. Everyone that is helping out here today is a volunteer. We all want to do our part in honoring all firemen.”

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