You know summer has officially begun when it is time for the 63rd Annual Village of Mamaroneck Volunteer Fire Department Carnival, kicking off tonight at 7.
The carnival -- which runs June 29 through July 5th (evenings only) -- is the primary fundraiser for the VOMFD for the whole year, according to Fire Chief Dean DeLitta.
"With the money raised, we give away more than $12,000 a year in donations, mostly to various local charities and activities, such as youth soccer, baseball and football, as well as two high school scholarships," he explained. "Whatever is left over is split amongst the five different fire companies."
Those companies include Hook & Ladder Co. No.1, Mamaro Engine & Hose Co. No.1, Columbia Engine & Hose Co. No.2, Volunteers Engine & Hose Co. No.3, and Halstead Manor Engine & Hose Co. No.4. DeLitta added that the money pays for things like meals for volunteers when they are doing individual training and drills, which helps create a bonding experience for the fire fighters.
The Fireman's Carnival will feature rides for all ages, as well as food stands, including the ever-popular pizza frites – fried dough dusted with powdered sugar. There will also be a raffle at the carnival, with a chance to win $7,000. DeLitta added that the carnival stays open until 11 pm or midnight, depending on the crowds and the weather, and may open early on Sunday.
Next in the lineup of festivities is the Fireman's Parade, which will be held Wednesday, June 30, beginning at 7 pm (the rain date is July 1st). Mamaroneck Avenue will be shut down from Barry Avenue to Harbor Island and must be car-free by 5 pm and until 9 pm.
According to former Chief John Barney, who co-chaired the parade committee with ex-Chief Felix "Hap" Hughes, a crowd of more than 30,000 is expected to line Mamaroneck Avenue. Representatives of 38 fire departments – including fire personnel, bands and fire apparatus -- from throughout the Tri-State area will be featured in the parade, coming from Westchester and Putnam Counties, as well as Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut.
The VOMFD will also unveil its new fire rescue boat during the parade, according to DeLitta.
A reviewing stand with approximately 20 judges – all past fire chiefs – will select winners for the 65 memorial trophies that were donated by various individuals, fire department and business community members. Prizes are given for everything from Best Bag Pipe Band, Best Drum & Bugle Corps and Best Majorette, to Best Junior Fire Group, Best Ladies Auxiliary and Best Looking Engine in State Under 10 Years Old.
This year's parade Grand Marshal is former Fire Chief Rod Brendolan. According to DeLitta, who selected him, Brendolan was an obvious choice because he is celebrating his 50th year of being a fire department member. The four division marshals, also past chiefs, are David Barney, Robert Deshensky, James Comblo and Kevin Dellner.
Additional parade committee members instrumental in organizing this year's events, according to Barney, include past Chief Chip Rigano and ex-Capt. Alan Casterella.
The nearly weeklong festivities will culminate in the fireworks display on July 4 at Harbor Island Park (the rain date is July 5th). It is important to note that the beach at Harbor Island will be closed on the Fourth of July to allow for set-up. The fireworks are expected to start anytime between 9:15 and 9:30 pm, depending on the weather, cloud cover and how dark it is, according to DeLitta. The carnival will close on Monday night.