SAXONBURG — Hundreds of spectators came out Thursday night to see not only fire trucks but also helicopters, police cars and the Knoch High School Marching Band at the annual Fireman's Parade at the Saxonburg Fireman's Carnival.
Rain held off for about an hour, allowing families and friends in the community to continue a long-standing annual tradition.
Ralph and Ginny Stanisky said they got their prime seating, several plastic chairs in the heart of Main Street, by claiming the area days in advance.
“I usually come here on Tuesday and set my chairs up,” said Ralph Stanisky, of Saxonburg.
He said he wraps a green plastic cable around the plastic chairs and ties them around a telephone poll to ensure no one moves them.
They've come to the parade for more than 40 years and have established a family tradition for three generations. His daughter, Pam Ritzert, along with her husband, Bryan, and their three daughters, Catrina, 8, and twins Brianna and Amber, both 3, watched the parade next to them.
“I've been coming since I was little, and I'm 40,” said Pam Ritzert of Saxonburg. “Every year he brought us up,” pointing to her father.
“It's a family tradition, like Christmas,” she said.
Other families have the benefit of owning homes along the parade route, ensuring front row seats every year.
Bess Mentel of Saxonburg said the parade is part of a family tradition for her, too. Her sister, who owns a home on Butler Street, hosts a party with more than 50 people every year.
“Generation after generation,” she said, nodding to several children, faces painted, sitting on a blanket in the front yard, patiently waiting to pounce on candy thrown.
Ellie Mentel, 5, Emma Szymanowski, 8, Kloe Roxbury, 5, Olivia Walewski, 5, Riley Roxbury, 5, and, Ian Walewski, 3, picked up pieces of candy and put them into their own plastic baggies.
Meanwhile, for other families, the event is newer.
Erika Cascio of Butler has been taking her daughters to the parade for the past three years.
Brooke, 10, Lilly, 7, and Josie, 6, stood near the road, emphatically raising their fists up and down in the air, the universal signal for drivers to honk their horns.
“It's a nice parade. It's long. And they enjoy the fire trucks ... I don't know why,” their mother said, as a fire truck sounded its siren and her girls squealed with excitement.
“That's probably why. Because they're honking their horns,” Cascio said, with a smile.
The girls were equally excited about collecting candy. Josie said they usually get about 100 pieces each.
After an hourlong pause due to the rain, the parade started up again and continued to the end.
More than 80 fire departments and other groups registered for the parade.