Marching To A Different Beat

WESTFIELD – Volunteer firefighters know how to save lives, save property and – as they demonstrated Friday evening – know how to put together a fun parade.

Billed as a “Comic Parade,” the march down Main Street in Westfield was a highlight of Friday’s activities during the 105th Southwestern Association of Volunteer Firemen Convention.

The parade had a Flintstones theme, and it was apparent that many of the 46 participating departments put some time and work into floats reflecting the popular animated series. Marchers gathered on Cottage Street starting at 6:30 p.m. and began moving onto Main Street a half-hour later. The parade, several blocks long, slowly moved west to Portage Street.

More than 850 firefighters and guests had registered by 5:30 p.m. Friday, according to Marsha Holland, vice president of SWAVF for Chautauqua County, and more were expected. Holland said planning for the convention was based on having 1,000 visitors and she remained confident that number would be met or exceeded.

Earlier in the day the convention held a business meeting in the Westfield Academy Central School auditorium and confirmed Bolivar in Alleghany County as the host for the 2014 convention. Bolivar last hosted in 2002.

Dave Thompson of the Bolivar Fire & EMS Department was elected President of SWAVF for the 2013-14 term, replacing Steve Pacanowski, Chief of the Westfield Department. Interviewed as he toured the many dugouts in the village, Pacanowski said he enjoyed his year leading the organization.

“There were some snags, there always are, but working with everybody was great,” he commented while saying hello to those in the Mayville Fire Co. dugout on Wood Street.

Two past presidents were among those remembered during a Memorial Service Friday morning in the WACS auditorium: Richard “Rocky” Ralicki of the Doyle Fire Co. and Michael Gates of the Lake Shore Department.

Convention events continue today with the Grand Parade, scheduled to begin at WACS at 3 p.m. The convention concludes this evening at 9 p.m.