The 88th Annual Ulster County Volunteer Firefighters Parade returns to Wallkill on Saturday, July 29 with parade stepoff at 5 p.m. Trucks will line up along River Road near Hulse Street then make their way down along Wallkill Avenue heading onto Bona Ventura Avenue before concluding at the Wallkill Fire House.
Community members will have the opportunity to enjoy live music from Dan Brothers Band and food from Fat Boys Food Truck, Stewarts Shop Ice Cream and free hot dogs. Fire companies this year will be coming from Ulster County, Orange County and Long Island. Longtime Wallkill member Delbe Spath will also serve as Grand Marshall for the parade.
Several trophies will also be awarded to various companies based upon certain criteria and judgment. The Orange County Judges Association will be overseeing the judging process for the parade. Vehicles, uniforms, Color Guards and other department and company aspects will be judged.
Categories and trophy sponsors were as follows: Best Overall, sponsored by Eric and Gidget Orr; Best Overall Ladies, sponsored by Bill Davidson in Memory of Gina Davidson; Best Overall Color Guard - Fire Service, sponsored by Retired Superintendent Joe and Elaine Smith; Best Appearing Out of County Firematic Unit, sponsored by Gary Specht Jr in Memory of Larry Prisco; Best Appearing Dressed Uniform 15 and over, sponsored by Wallkill Paving in Memory of JR DeGroodt; Best Appearing Bloused Uniform 15 and under, sponsored by Wallkill Paving in Memory of Joe DeGroodt; and Best Appearing Pumper, sponsored by Wallkill Volunteer Ambulance Corp.
Other awards and sponsors included Best Appearing Bloused Uniform 15 and over, sponsored by Delbe Spath; Best Appearing Dressed Uniform 15 and under, sponsored by Wallkill Fire Lieutenants; 2nd Best Appearing Bloused Uniform 15 and under, sponsored by Al Valk’s Garage; 3rd Best Appearing Bloused Unit 15 and under, sponsored by Steve’s Electric, 2nd Best Appearing Bloused Uniform 15 and over, sponsored by Matt Trappe’s Plumbing and HVAC; 2nd Best Appearing Dressed Uniform 15 and under sponsored by Wallkill Funeral Home, 2nd Best Appearing Dressed Uniform 15 and Over sponsored by Tom’s Landscaping, Best Appearing Rescue Truck sponsored by Wallkill Body Shop and Glass, Best Appearing Chief’s Car sponsored by Wallkill Certified Auto Repair and Best Appearing Antique Apparatus and Best Appearing Ladder/Tower both sponsored by Wallkill Past Chief Robert Keator.
After several years of serving in leadership roles, Lance Booth, Acting President of the Ulster County Volunteer Firemen’s Association takes on the parade preparation and planning with his team for the first time. The acting president of that year within the association and their respective company are tasked with hosting the parade for the other surrounding companies in the area. Marlborough was host to the parade the previous year.
Booth will have family coming from out of state to take part in the parade celebrations, and he looks forward to seeing them and community members coming out to enjoy this special celebration. He also extends thanks to all those involved in making the parade possible. “It’s a little nerve wracking. It’s a good feeling to represent my company, in a big way,” he said. “It’s not one individual. It’s the whole company. I hope everyone enjoys the parade.”
Gary Specht Jr., Second Assistant Chief for the Wallkill Fire Department, will serve as emcee for the event. As a firefighter, he is happy to see community members and his neighbors coming out to support the fire department and firefighters as a whole on parade day. This particular year is also special for Specht as he has known Booth since he was six years old and had coached him in football. “It means a lot for me to look at him and see the person he’s [Booth] developed into,” he said.
Specht looks forward to another successful parade and parade turnout.
“Just want to make sure we put on the best possible parade convention we can. We hosted the Hudson Valley Convention last year, which is probably three times the size of this one,” said Specht. “It’s a special event for firemen. It brings not only our community together but it brings all the entire Ulster County together.”