PARKERSBURG - Residents lined the streets of Parkersburg and Belpre Saturday night for the fourth annual Ohio River Valley Fire Prevention Parade.
Seventy-five trucks from fire departments around the Mid-Ohio Valley assembled on Market Street in Parkersburg and worked their way across the Belpre Bridge and Washington Boulevard to end at the Belpre Volunteer Fire Department Training Center.
"When we started this (parade) four years ago, I was hoping it would grow," said Paul Jordan, vice president of the Wood County Firefighters Association. "I'm proud of it and like to see it grow."
About 75 fire trucks crossed the Belpre Bridge Saturday night for the fourth annual Ohio River Valley Fire Prevention Parade to promote unity between the two counties. (Photo by Jolene Craig)
Parkersburg fire Chief Eric Taylor said this year's parade went "really well" and that it gets much support from the fire departments in the area.
"We do it every year and it gets a little bit bigger each year with departments from as far away as St. Marys having two or three trucks in it," Taylor said.
The yearly parade is set to coincide with Fire Prevention Month in October and went from Bicentennial Park in downtown Parkersburg to Civitan Park in Belpre with lights flashing and sirens blaring as they crossed the bridge into Belpre and proceeded side by side down Washington Boulevard.
Fire Prevention Month commemorates the Great Chicago Fire in October 1871 that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres.
Each year the parade alternates between Parkersburg and Belpre and Marietta and Williamstown.
"When we began the parade, we set out to unite the two counties," said Jordan, who is also a member of the Williamstown Volunteer Fire Department. "We wanted to make it a nighttime parade where the community could see the lights from the trucks and vehicles shining as they make their way across the bridge at dusk."
Jordan said the dual county-state parade came to him and former Marietta Fire Chief Tom Dempsey after they saw the fire parade in Huntington together several years ago.
"It originally was something I wanted to do between the two counties and when we spoke to chiefs and members of other fire departments, they really got on board," Jordan said. "We are so fortunate to have the fire departments that we have in this valley. The communities work so well together that there are rarely problems getting the parade going."