Friday October 12, 2012

BELLOWS FALLS -- If you’re a village resident, don’t be alarmed if you hear a barrage of fire trucks and marching bands on Sunday.

There’s no emergency -- just 126 years of tradition unfolding on the streets.

The Bellows Falls Fire Prevention Parade is a well-known yearly event -- though a few have been canceled due to rain -- and has seen three different centuries. Bellows Falls Deputy Fire Chief John Cenate said the parade’s participants are slated to line up at the Bellows Falls Fire Station at noon and begin at 1 p.m.

He said the event, which spans about a mile, starts by the fire station and proceeds down Atkinson Street, where everyone turns at the street lights and into The Square. The parade’s entrants will include the fire departments of various towns and marching bands from some area high schools.

The festivity will conclude at the fire station with the awarding of trophies to marching bands for first, second and third place, based on the judgment of a review stand manned by members of the Bellows Falls Fire Department.

Trophies will also be handed out to the fire department that traveled the farthest to get to the village and to the one with the oldest fire truck.

"It’s a way for people in the community to familiarize themselves with their fire departments," Cenate said of the annual parade. He is also the president of the Bellows Falls Professional Firefighter’s Association.

Cenate said the fire departments of Saxtons River, Rockingham, Westminster, Grafton, and Walpole and Claremont, N.H., are regulars and the marching bands from Bellows Falls Union High School, Fall Mountain Regional High School (N.H.) and four or five other schools usually show up.

BFUHS and Bellows Falls Middle School will both send their marching bands to perform.

Second-year high school band director Nick Pelton said 27 students will play the school song and pop music tunes in the parade.

"It’s great exposure for the community to see what the music program at the high school is doing," he said. "It’s a great chance for kids to get some performance experience."

BFMS band director Stanley Rumrill, in his 14th year at the position, said he has 38 kids that will perform on Sunday. Though many played at this year’s Big E in West Springfield, Mass., the parade will be a first for them.

"For a lot of them it’s a brand-new experience," Rumrill said. "And I’m really looking forward to taking them on their first marching experience."

He said he tells the students this is their opportunity to give back to the community that supports them so much. The band, he said, will perform "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."

Cenate said there will be refreshments such as sandwiches and chips after the parade.

Anyone wishing to send fire apparatus or marching units must RSVP to the Bellows Falls Fire Department no later than today. The phone number is 802-463-4343.

The BFMS marching band will also attend the annual Halloween parade held by Central Elementary School on Wednesday, Oct. 31. Students and adults -- most of them in costumes -- will start their parade on George Street, walk down Atkinson Street, to Oak Street, Church Place and back to the school. The band will lead the parade and be escorted by the Bellows Falls police and fire departments.

The event starts at 1:30 p.m. and everyone is welcome -- costumed or not.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.