NEWFANE -- Nearly a year after Tropical Storm Irene, South Newfane residents are planning a celebration.
Organizers are putting together the Aug. 26 Rock River Revival Parade with two goals in mind: They want to mark the progress the area has made since the flood while also raising money for volunteer firefighters who responded to the disaster.
"They put their lives on the line," said Chris Triebert, the event’s lead planner.
Triebert was among the South Newfane residents hit hard by Irene’s floodwaters in late August. So the parade route she has chosen is familiar and symbolic: It begins on Dover Road between the Green Iron Bridge and Covered Bridge.
"It’s really the spot where the river overtook the road," Triebert said.
The parade will proceed to Williamsville Hall, a critical spot during initial flood-recovery efforts.
"That was where we went to get our information," Triebert said. "Meals were served there every night. It was kind of a command center."
The parade starts at noon Aug. 26 and is expected to last about an hour. A barbecue lunch will follow at Williamsville Hall.
The lunch is organized by Jon Julian, a Dover Road resident who operates the popular Top of the Hill Grill in Brattleboro. Triebert said that’s just one example of the many residents who are getting involved in the event.
"There’s a lot of people coming forward to help," she said.
"We’re really trying to get participation from all of the Newfane businesses and civic groups," she said. "And anyone can walk just to show their support."
Residents who are interested in volunteering can contact Triebert for more information at 348-7440 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The parade has garnered the support of Newfane Selectboard and Windham County Sheriff’s Department. The assistance of sheriff’s deputies is important since organizers expect to briefly shut a portion of Dover Road.
"We will assist in traffic control during the parade," Sheriff Keith Clark said. "We’re just building it into our schedule."
Triebert said such logistical details have been in the works for months. The idea, she said, simply is to "celebrate our revival" as neighbors have helped neighbors recover in the wake of Irene.
"There’s been a real renewed community spirit," she said. "We really want to honor that."
She also wants to provide a financial boost for volunteer emergency responders: The event will benefit South Newfane Williamsville Volunteer Fire Department, and some proceeds also will go to NewBrook Fire and Rescue.
Steve Jones, longtime chief of the South Newfane department, is hoping for a big response from the community.
"Right now, we’re in need of new turnout gear," Jones said, adding that such gear can cost a few thousand dollars for each firefighter.
The parade also is an opportunity for Jones to reflect on how far the town has come since Irene struck.
"A lot has happened in a year," he said. "I didn’t expect that we’d be as far along as we are right now."
Mike Faher can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.