A Day Of Celebration

ELIZABETH – Wirt County residents have been celebrating the Fourth of July and keeping the Elizabeth-Wirt County Volunteer Fire Department going with the ice cream social for 36 years.

Stephen Settle, chief of the department, said this year’s social was also celebrating the 75th anniversary of the department. It also gave the public a chance to see the past and the future of the department.

“We’re building a new addition with 2,600 square feet for a new training room, offices, kitchen and restrooms and a second floor loft that will be like a recreation room for the firefighters,” he said. “We put a new truck in service this week, a Pierce International pumper.”

On display in front of the new addition was an original piece of equipment from 1939.

“We restored the original hose cart from 1939 when our department began,” Settle said. “Jerry Hopkins and Rick Mason and some others took the wheels to the Amish Country where they were fixed and painted and they cleaned up an old hose and put on there.

“It’s gorgeous, absolutely beautiful. We put a lot of work into it.”

Settle said the 75th anniversary kicked off Saturday morning with the largest parade in the VFD’s history.

“We had a huge parade, we’ve had an exceptional turnout,” he said. “Counting our department we had 14 other emergency service organizations,” he said. “We had 148 (runners) in our Fire Cracker 500 5K run this year.”

Settle said so many people showed up for the social on Saturday, the department ran out of some items and was low on others by the afternoon. He said chips ran out and soft drinks ran low, so the department bought more.

“We’re selling lots and lots of ice cream,” he said. “We got 60 gallons of ice cream and 2,500 hot dogs to sell today and we hope we sell every one of them.”

Settle said a lot of the credit for the social goes to Tom Crouser, the department’s assistant chief.

“He’s the wheels behind the madness,” he said. “He’s done a great job, he’s very thorough and he’s done a lot for our department.”

Settle said the food was supplemented with homemade pies and cakes.

Since it is the 75th anniversary, he said the VFD added a fireworks display Saturday evening.

“This is a new thing for us,” he said.

Settle said the social also featured four bands for entertainment and the night was to close with the fireworks.

Grantsville resident Jessica Harris said she liked the atmosphere of the ice cream social on Saturday.

“It is family-oriented and it’s nice company,” she said. “It’s a peaceful event.”

Bob Mason, of Elizabeth, said he grew up in Wirt County and the ice cream social is a tradition.

“This is a family thing around here, it’s all tradition,” he said. “It’s what every one comes to every year. It’s a good community building thing.”

Cassie Full, of Elizabeth, said she was there because it is a community event.

“Everybody is here and it’s nice to see the community come out and support the fire department.” she said.