The all-volunteer parade was the community's first since 1989.
By JOSH ECHT
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
POLAND -- Alex Hunt likes fireworks that look like weeping willows, but his friend Michael Probst disagrees.
"I like the small, white fireworks that make lots of loud bursting noises," Probst said, as the two watched several rocket into the air simultaneously and fire at different levels.
The two 17-year-old Poland residents said they enjoyed watching Poland's 12th annual display Friday night.
Hunt and Probst watched the 30-minute show with an estimated crowd of at least 5,000 at Baird Mitchell Field.
Poland celebrated the Fourth of July three days early with fireworks, outdoor movies behind the Poland Library, live music from the band The Brotherhood, a concession stand and a 30-minute town parade organized by the Poland Firemen's Association.
PFA president Lee Ingold said he was impressed with the hard work put into the all-volunteer parade. "It took us six months to organize it," he said. "Many organizations stepped up today."
Ingold said the 7 p.m. parade, which featured firetrucks and emergency vehicles from 12 nearby municipalities including Lowellville and New Middleton, also included entries from local businesses and several politicians. The department recorded 35 entries.
"We're very pleased with the turnout," said Poland Fire Department Public Information Officer John Whitinger.
This is the city's first parade since 1989, he said, even though the village held Poland Community Days in 1998 and 1999, which consisted of similar celebrations but no parade. For several years, manpower issues decided the fate of the parade, he said.
Local residents responded enthusiastically to Poland's renewed focus on tradition and community.
"I'm glad the city is bringing back the parade; I like the fireworks each year," said Kelsey Reardon, 18. "Tradition is a big part of Poland."
Allicyn Tocco, 23, said the community enjoys the annual fireworks display and concert.
"It's one thing everyone in the community looks forward to each year," said Tocco, who has lived in Poland for 17 years.
The annual fireworks display, started in 1994, grew out of the formation of the Poland Forum, a local social organization started by Tom Duncan and Chappie Bair.
"We got businesses to donate money for the fireworks when we started the forum in the 1990s," Duncan said. "We staged the fireworks to get the village moving forward with community involvement in events like these."
Duncan and Bair coordinate the annual fireworks display.
Nine-year resident Mary Jan Perdulla, who owns Pioneer Trails Tree Farm, said she enjoys the town and the people,
"I like the small community atmosphere," she said.
The city's qualities attract residents from nearby towns as well.
Cassey Turic, 17, of Boardman, said she visits Poland frequently.
"I like it because everyone knows each other," she said. "It's not like some big city; it's friendly and normal."