When the Eastport Fire Department celebrated its 75th anniversary 25 years ago, officials then began budgeting for their 100th anniversary celebration. Five years ago they started planning the event and, on Saturday, September 21, the Eastport Fire Department celebrated 100 years of service to our community with a parade and party.Everyone was invited to attend the celebration, and attend they did! About 2,000 of them!
North and South Bay avenues were the streets designated for the 40 visiting fire/ambulance departments to line up their vehicles and hang out before the parade began at 4 p.m. Along Montauk Highway, crews strung red, green and white balloons, and installed temporary roadblocks.
Montauk Highway was to be closed from North Bay Avenue to Eastport Manor Road for the duration of the parade. But we all knew this because, during the week, firefighters handed out invitation flyers door-to-door, announcing the celebration and the road closures. Good planning also included Port-a-Pottis and signs everywhere telling the visitors where to line up.
The first band of bagpipers stepped off at 4 p.m. and was followed by every vehicle owned by our fire department, as well as every member of the department and its auxiliaries. It was a proud moment to be a member of this community, and to be able to thank and cheer for our brave men and women.
Firefighters love the horns and other noisemakers on their trucks, so take about 100 of those trucks and times that by 200 horns and you can imagine the commotion! But it was exciting to see the different companies here to honor Eastport. The Eastport South Manor High School marching band marched and played as did other fire department bands filled with men, women and children from all over Suffolk County.
Following the big parade, which lasted a good hour, everyone headed to the firehouse on Union Avenue for burgers, hot dogs, chicken, salads, soda, ice cream and yes, beer (there was a beer truck). There was live music for dancing and commemorative memorabilia for purchase, but everything else was “on the house.” The fire department paid for it all and let all the cooking and serving be done by someone else so that their members could enjoy every minute of the festivities.
And they deserve it. Members of the Eastport Fire Department were not on call Saturday night either. Any emergency calls were taken over by our neighboring departments. (Thank you neighboring fire departments!) Eastport was off-duty for the night.
The music could be heard until well after dark as the beer (and in some cases, champagne) continued to flow. On Sunday afternoon, at around 3:30 p.m., I heard the fire whistle go off. It was back to business for the men and women of our Eastport Fire Department whom we thank and honor, and will continue to support whether it’s an anniversary year or not.
Thank you, Eastport firefighters and congratulations on 100 years of service!