It was loud—louder than the motorcycles ever dreamed of being.
Thirty-eight fire trucks drove through Digby on Saturday morning with blaring sirens and flashing lights.
“That’s impressive,” said Bob Lambie, a firefighter with 30 years experience, as he looked down from an aerial ladder on the parade. “Just amazing. What is cooler than that?”
Trucks and firefighters converged on Digby from all over southwestern Nova Scotia to take part in the parade, which stretched from the cenotaph in downtown Digby all the way back past the Baptist Church—500 meters of fire trucks.
“How’d you like our $20 million parade?” asked rally chair Mike Bartlett afterwards, figuring each truck cost an average of $500,000. He estimates 25 departments were represented in the parade.
“It was great to see and to showcase all that equipment. We exceeded our expectations and so grateful for the support from all the fire departments and the community.”
Digby’s mayor Ben Cleveland says the firefighters deserve a big thanks for hosting such a successful event.
“Now on top of Scallop Days and the Wharf Rat Rally, we have a festival early in the season that showcases Digby and our ability to provide a good time for residents and visitors alike.”
Bartlett says the weekend turned out better than planned in almost every way.
“Did you see all the children, the families downtown? Everyone smiling and having a good time, that’s exactly what we were hoping for,” he said. “We wanted to bring people to town, early in the season when things are normally quiet and have some fun.”
Barltett says the midway was a big attraction and is already working on getting them back for next year.
Tyler Adams, the midway manager, says the weekend worked out well for them.
“It was a good turn out and the people here were very helpful and nice,” he said. “I don’t have one complaint.”
Barltett says the companies at the trade show were also pleased with the exposure they got and he expects the trade show to double in size next year.
He’s also looking to expand every part of the rally.
“We focused on the local area this year—just to get things going and see what could be done—and we are really pleased with the response,” he said. “Our next step is to expand into the rest of Atlantic Canada and get some of those departments that can send a truck overnight. Then you’ll start seeing more teams in the challenges, more people booking hotel rooms, more people around in the evenings.”
Bartlett admits there are a few wrinkles to iron out.
“People have suggested we put on more challenges and competitions and that is probably a good idea, but this first year, we just wanted to host one big event each day. Next year we can look at holding more events like a combat challenge, hose laying…”
He’s not sure yet what happened with the vendors.
“We had thirty registered and 20 of them paid in advance. We don’t know why they didn’t show up.”
Mark Bastarache, fire chief with Smith’s Cove says the rally is a great event.
“We did really well on our breakfasts and lunch here, so from a fundraising point of view, excellent, but also this can do a lot of good for raising awareness and perhaps help with recruiting.”
Bartlett says the rally committee will be sitting down next week to look a what went right, what needs to be improved and then start planning for next year.