More than 1,000 volunteer firemen will be coming to Kane for a three-day convention that begins Thursday.
The Kane Volunteer Fire Department is hosting the 119th annual convention of the Central District Volunteer Firefighter's Association (CDVFA). The organization, founded in 1892, meets annually for business meetings-- as well as for fun, relaxation and camaraderie.
The CDVFA represents 261 volunteer fire departments from 23 Pennsylvania counties. The organization, which serves more than 2,500 volunteer firemen, is the second largest in the state. Only the state firemen's association represents more volunteers.
The Kane Volunteer Fire Department has been a member of the CDVFA since 1894. This is the fifth time Kane has hosted the Central convention. Kane last hosted the event in 2003. Kane also hosted the convention in 1933, 1943 and 1949.
Kane's bid to host the 2011 convention was approved four years ago and the department has been busy preparing for the event ever since.
John McAlee, a past trustee and vice president and an active member of the Kane Fire Department and Fire Police, is the current president of the CDVFA. Jim Huckabone, former Kane fire chief, is chairman of the convention committee.
"We have spent the last four years planning for the convention and we hope the public comes out to enjoy the activities and entertainment," McAlee said. He pointed out that the convention is the "major fundraiser this year" for the Kane Volunteer Fire Department.
McAlee said "the biggest event of the convention will be the Grand Parade," which begins at 3 p.m. Saturday. At least 70 pieces of fire-fighting equipment will take part in the parade, which is expected to run for two hours.
The parade will feature several musical units-- including the Grey Knights Drum and Bugle Corps of Johnsonburg, various fire department drum corps and marching bands from Kane and Johnsonburg high schools.
The Shriners Zem-Zem Roadrunners also will participate in the parade on Fraley Street.
"Millie" Kearney, who has been an active member of the Kane Volunteer Fire Department for more than 50 years, will serve as the parade marshal.
The convention will feature free entertainment at the Kane Fire Hall on Poplar Street. The public is invited to join with the visiting firefighters at the entertainment tent.
The free entertainment at the fire hall includes:
Thursday-- 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.-- "Grover and the Nighthawks" bluegrass band; 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.-- "Hollow Body" rock band.
Friday-- 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.-- "Arlington Express" country band; 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.-- "Micheal O'Brian Band" Irish "fun" band (wear a kilt); 11:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.-- "T.N.T. Audio Entertainment" disc jockey.
Saturday-- 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.-- "T.N.T. Audio;" 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.-- "Planet X" rock band; 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.-- "XIII" rock band.
In addition to the parade and free entertainment, the convention will feature "fun" competition among fire companies.
The "Battle of the Barrel" contest will be held at 3 p.m. Friday on Wetmore Avenue. The "Pumping Contest" is set for 10 a.m. Saturday, also on Wetmore Avenue. The public is invited to view the competition.
In the "Battle of the Barrel," teams of firemen spray a stream of water on a keg suspended from a cable.
"This competition is always enjoyable-- and wet," McAlee said.
Local children using garden hoses will compete in a "Battle of the Barrel" contest at noon Saturday at the fire hall.
Another "water battle" is set for 10 a.m. Saturday when the "Pumping Contest" will be held on Wetmore Avenue.
The public also is invited to attend the memorial service at 9 a.m. Friday at the gazebo at Evergreen Park. The service will honor volunteer firefighters who have died in the past year.
Following the memorial service, an Awards Ceremony will be held at the Kane Middle School auditorium. Awards will be given for acts of valor and fire prevention programs.