150 years in the making

Warwick. The Orange County Volunteer Firemen’s Association and 150th anniversary of the Warwick Valley Fire Department parade draws record crowds.

01 Oct 2019 | 02:08

The weather was near perfect and of course, there was also the participation of the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales.

And on Saturday, Sept. 28, record crowds, along the entire route, began assembling hours before the 104th Orange County Volunteer Firemen’s Association and 150th Warwick Valley Fire Department parade.

Many downtown Warwick businesses had decorated their storefronts to welcome all the Orange County firefighters.

Yesterday’s restaurant, for example, decorated and even provided curbside seating for its patrons.

The parade was led by The Warwick Valley Police Department and the Orange County Sheriffs Office Color Guard followed by O.C. Volunteer Association President and Grand Marshall James Gerstner, who also serves as the deputy supervisor for the Town of Warwick.

The Parade Honorary Grand Marshall was John Orr.

For approximately three hours, 56 Orange County and volunteer fire companies from the surrounding area marched or rode from Veterans Memorial Park to South Streeet and then to Oakland Avenue, Main Street, High Street, Forester Avenue and back to Memorial Park.

A major attraction was the eight-horse hitch Clydesdales’ appearance in Warwick, one of hundreds made annually. The huge draft horses, which stand about six feet and weigh an average of 2,000 pounds, are now used primarily for breeding and show.

In the beginning

The parade honored the 150th anniversary of the Warwick Valley Fire Department, which goes back to 1869 when the Excelsior Fire Engine Co. No. 1 was organized in the Village of Warwick.

Three years earlier, by the way, the Florida Fire Department formed.

The Goodwill Hook and Ladder Company on Forester Avenue was established in 1890.and its former firehouse was what is now Village Hall.

The Raymond Hose Co. 2, formerly located on Howe Street, was formed in 1896.

The most recent addition was Engine Company No. 3 on South Street Extension, which was established in 1967.

And along the way there were also other volunteer fire companies formed in Greenwood Lake, Pine Island and Amity.

- Roger Gavan