Rain fails to put out firehouse expo parade

Despite low attendance, event goes on as planned to mark end of convention

`Normally, we have thousands'

July 19, 2004|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

Michelle Dietz forgot her umbrella yesterday.

But the Farmdale, Ohio, firefighter braved a steady rain and stood underneath a tree on Charles Street, clapping as fire engines and marching bands went by as part of the 21st Annual Firehouse Exposition Parade.

"It's important for fire and emergency service people; we support each other no matter what," Dietz said. "It's that brotherly thing."

Yesterday was the last day of the 21st Firehouse Exposition, held at the Baltimore Convention Center. More than 16,000 people attended the event, officials said, to view firefighting equipment, listen to lectures and participate in training exercises.

But only an estimated 500 people watched as fire engines traveled from Key Highway to the Inner Harbor, where six fire companies were given plaques in recognition of their efforts to fight the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904.

"We're excited with the turnout ... but the rain has hindered participation," said Kevin Cartwright, a Fire Department spokesman. "Normally, we have thousands."

Some, like Christa Konsavage, braved the rain and sought shelter in two nearby parking garages, where they could see the parade without getting soaked.

Konsavage, a volunteer with the Brockton Fire Company near Schuylkill Township, Pa., watched the parade from the third floor of a parking garage.

Others happily stood in the steadily increasing rain to get a closer look at the parade.

Mark Jay, a 16-year-old from Lawnside, N.J., had come to Baltimore with his family for the event. Jay is a volunteer with the Lawnside Fire Company and hopes to become a firefighter after college.

"It's worth it to show support," he said, wiping the rain from his glasses.

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