SFFD plans one hot party
To mark the occasion of the department’s 150th anniversary, members of the Sheboygan Falls Fire Department are planning something extra special this summer.
Details are currently being finalized for the department’s 150th Anniversary Festival and Parade to take place Saturday, Aug. 24 at River Park in downtown Sheboygan Falls.
The large-scale event is set to include a long-day festival celebration in River Park from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., as well as a parade through the city at 10 a.m.
According to 150th Anniversary Festival and Parade Committee member Calvin Kesweder, the parade will feature an extensive collection of fire trucks rarely seen together in one place.
“We have been contacting departments from all over the state to come in and join us for this special event,” he said. “We’ve received a number of commitments already. The parade will have just vehicles and equipment related to firefighting, nothing else.”
The committee has secured a commitment from the popular New Glarus Fire Department Ladder Team, which is well known for making crowd pleasing appearances in parades and special events throughout the state.
“The New Glarus Ladder Team is really something else,” Kesweder said. “They put on quite a show with their ladder equipment. I’ve seen a YouTube video of them in action, and I guarantee that this is something people will definitely want to come out for.”
Following the parade, many of the units will stay and be on display near River Park along Western Avenue.
“We know some of the units will have to head out right after the parade, but a number of them will stay to give people a chance to check out their trucks,” Kesweder said. “It should be cool for people to have a chance to see all those fire trucks up close.”
The event will also give the department a chance to show off its new ladder (aerial) truck, which will be delivered in May.
Activity at River Park is slated to 11 a.m., which will include kids games, bouncy houses and pony rides.
“We want to make this a family event, especially during the day, so we have planned a number of things for kids to do,” Kesweder said.
Water fights featuring area firefi ghters are on the tentative agenda.
“Water fights used to be a really big deal, but they really aren’t as much anymore,” Kesweder said. “I would like to bring water fights back for this. They are a lot of fun to watch and to participate in.”
Kesweder said the layout of the park for the festival will mirror that of the Sheboygan Falls Lions Club’s Oktoberfest event last September.
“We are using the same large tent that the Lions Club had for Oktoberfest last year,” Kesweder said. “We will be modifying the set up a bit, but in general the layout will be nearly identical to what the Lions had for Oktoberfest.”
Musical entertainment will feature the Happy Schnapp’s Combo in the afternoon and Tuscan Road in the evening.
“We are excited to have both of these bands come in to play for us,” Kesweder said. “Tuscan Road is from Wausau and they have never played in this area before. They are a country music cover band that is really good.
“The music will end at 10 p.m. and the park closes at 11 p.m., so the park will be cleared out by then,” he said.
A raffle will feature three big prizes, including the top prize of a seven-day trip for two to an allinclusive resort in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.
Second prize is a three-day trip for two to Las Vegas and third prize is a two-person, two-night stay in a suite at Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells.
Raffle tickets will be available from any member of the Sheboygan Falls Fire Department for $5 each.
“We wanted to have really nice raffle prizes that would draw people’s attention,” said Buddy Wright, 150th Anniversary Festival and Parade Planning Committee member. “These are trips that we hope will stir up interest in entering the raffle.”
The Sheboygan Falls Lions Club and Knights of Columbus have stepped up to handle all food preparation and sales.
“The Lions and Knights of Columbus will be helping us out with the food, so once the parade is over our firefighters will be free to relax and enjoy the party,” Kesweder said.
Food offerings will include the usual brats and burgers and fairtype food, as well as a corn roast courtesy of the Sheboygan Falls FFA.
Kesweder notes that the event will not serve as a fundraiser for the fire department.
“We will receive half of the food sales and money from the raffle, but we will use that money mainly to pay for the expenses of putting on the event,” Kesweder said. “Whatever might be left over, will be donated to the Children’s Burn Camp. The fire department won’t keep any of the money.
“Our intention is simply for this to be a big day of fun for the whole family and to celebrate the history of the fire department in Sheboygan Falls,” he said.
The 150th Anniversary Festival and Parade Planning Committee, which also includes department members John Albright and Blaine Steinhaus, has been hard at work on the event for nearly a year.
“We’ve been planning this since last March,” Wright said. “It has been a lot of hard work, but I think it will be worth it. We are looking forward to having another great event in Sheboygan Falls this summer.”
The department was initially formed in 1863 as the Germania Engine Co. No. 1 in what was then called the village of Rochester and now called the city of Sheboygan Falls.
The company was renamed the R.A. Williams Fire Engine Co. No. 1 in 1884 and a subsidiary hook and ladder company was also formed. The present name of the Sheboygan Falls Fire Department was adopted in 1919.
To honor the long history of the department, members are seeking any pictures, news articles or memorabilia related to the Sheboygan Falls Fire Department.
“We would love to have people send in any firefighting memorabilia or items, particularly having to do with our department,” Kesweder said. “We are encouraging people to share anything they have with us.”
Those interested in submitting items are asked to call the Sheboygan Falls Fire Department at 467- 7914.