GSFR Slates Museum Dedication And Open House
The 1918 American LaFrance fire engine housed at Garden Spot Fire Rescue (GSFR), 339 E. Main St., New Holland, is a special piece of antique fire apparatus. "The engine is a piece of GSFR history," said Allison Cuthie, coordinator of the LaFrance's upcoming 100th anniversary celebration. "It connects (GSFR members) to the legacy and the families that have been involved (in GSFR), and (this event) is an opportunity for (GSFR members and friends) to celebrate the commitment that key members put into this engine." The 100th anniversary of the GSFR American LaFrance will be celebrated at the East Main Street station on Saturday, July 7, from noon to 4 p.m.
At noon, a dedication of the B. Auker Fire Museum at GSFR, where the LaFrance is on display, will be held. Special guests at the dedication are slated to include Sen. Ryan Aument, Rep. Dave Zimmerman, New Holland Borough police chief William Leighty, Judge Jonathan Heisse, and Bruce Trego, acting state fire commissioner. A contingency of the New Holland Band will play, and GSFR chief emeritus Larry Martin will speak as a friend who knew Barry Auker, the museum's namesake. Cuthie noted that chairs will be set up in front of the station to accommodate the public, and the dedication will be under a tent so it can be held rain or shine.
Barry Auker was a GSFR member who was responsible for obtaining the engine and putting years of effort into its restoration. Auker died in 2004, but his wife and children will be present at the celebration. In addition to the LaFrance, the museum will hold photographs; newspaper articles about large fires fought by GSFR members, such as the Farm Bureau fire and the fire at Rubinson's; and antique firefighting equipment. "(The museum will be) a walk down memory lane for people who are interested in (GSFR) fire history and memorabilia and equipment," said Cuthie.
Following the dedication, Cuthie noted that the fire department will offer activities designed to appeal to people of all ages. "We will be set up for self-guided tours of the museum and fire company," said Cuthie, who added that free hot dogs, snacks, beverages, and cake will be served in the GSFR hall. "The cake will be a three-dimensional copy of the LaFrance."
In addition, a rolling slideshow of photos shared by GSFR members and a GSFR promotional video will play. There will be an area where visitors may suit up in fire gear to see how it feels to carry that much equipment. A photo booth will be nearby to commemorate the experience. Mannequins wearing protective gear will be set up, and the pieces of equipment will be tagged with information about their value. A display about GSFR efforts in the community and other educational materials will be available.
Displays at the event will include entries for the GSFR American LaFrance poster contest that will conclude on Saturday, June 30. Banners dedicated to area first responders that were part of the ELANCO Armed Forces Banner Program will be on display as well.
GSFR fire apparatus and a locally-owned 1948 Mack Engine will be on display, and the fire safety trailer and smoke house will be on-site. A medical helicopter from Brandywine Hospital will also land at the station.
Activities to interest younger visitors will be held as well. "We will have fire truck rides around the block and bucket rides in the parking lot," said Cuthie, who added that ELANCO Library representatives will be on-site to hold fire-themed story and craft times at 1 and 3 p.m. "We will also have the Flame Game, where children can practice putting out fires," said Cuthie. In addition, a bounce house and dunk tank will be on-site, and organizers expect Smokey Bear to visit.
For those who would like a souvenir of the occasion, 100th anniversary T-shirts and a collectible afghans, each emblazoned with the image of the LaFrance, will be available for purchase.
Readers who would like more information about the event may visit https://gsfr39.net or search for "Garden Spot Fire Rescue (GSFR39)" on Facebook.