For firefighters, paradeholds honors and grief
BOARDMAN -- Saturday's parade will be an opportunity to honor America and recognize its veterans, but also a time of grieving for firefighters, said Austintown Fire Chief Andrew Frost.
"It's bittersweet. It's good to see everybody participate and honor America, but it's very sad that we're mourning the 343 firefighters who perished," along with thousands of others, in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, he said.
"The Valley's Tribute to American Heroes: A Red, White and Blue Parade," presented by The Vindicator and WFMJ TV 21, will begin at 10 a.m. and travel on Market Street from Nisonger Drive to the Boardman Township Administration Building.
Members of the Austintown Fire Department's 5-year-old honor guard will march and carry rifles and the U.S. and Austintown Township flags.
Frost said he hopes six or eight members of the 10-member honor guard, which came in 14th overall in national competition at the 1999 Fire Department Instructors Conference in Indianapolis, will be able to march. Participating honor guards, which included many from major cities, were judged on such criteria as neatness of uniforms, posture, marching skills, flag-folding and pallbearing.
Frost, past president of the Mahoning County Fire Chiefs' Association, will ride in a fire chief's car. His department will send a 102-foot ladder truck and another truck, most likely a smaller engine-and-ladder combination truck.
The parade's grand marshals will be New York City firefighters Paul Iannizzotto and Robert Salvesen. "It's a Veteran's Day parade. It's an 'Honor America' parade. It's going to be a combination of veterans, fire and police," Frost said.
More than 130 groups, including 17 high school bands, are set to march.