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St. Paul Park firefighters to serve as Heritage Days parade grand marshals

It was an idea the St. Paul Park Heritage Commission kicked around for a while before deciding who the 2013 Heritage Days Grand Parade Marshal would be. And this year there are 23 of them.

To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the St. Paul Park Fire Department, the dedicated fire crew has been named the official grand marshals.

“We thought this would be a pretty cool idea,” said safety and training officer and firefighter Bruce Zenner said. “We wanted to tie in our anniversary with the festival similar to what we did on our 50th anniversary.”

As special honorees during the festival, the department is also the recipient of the first printed Heritage Days button, which will be presented to Fire Chief Kurk Lee after the parade on Saturday. A member of the St. Paul Park Fire Department for 23 years and chief for  nine years, Zenner said Lee is the best person to accept the button.

“He’s our leader so it only makes sense.”

The majority of the department will be riding on a float designed by one of their own, Alden Peterson, while the others will be driving fire rigs.

On Sunday, the department will participate in the first ever fire truck only parade through town. Another commemorative event, the parade will feature retired St. Paul Park firefighters, city fire trucks and the apparatus of several departments from around the area.

“We have solidified eight departments as of right now and have about 50 units that will be in the parade,” Zenner said. “We’re hoping to get a few more signed up here soon.”

Blending the old with the new is what Zenner hopes to see during the parade as departments plan to bring vintage and new units. A bag pipe and drum band will perform during the parade and spectators will be able to see the city’s fire department float once again.

“We got a good response from people regarding the fire truck parade,” Zenner said. “Sunday is usually a slower day and we’re hoping that this will get people back out.”

Zenner said he is also hoping to see a sea of blue tie-dye during both parades and urged residents to buy a “Hot Times on Broadway” T-shirt. Available at Park Café, Park Place Sports Bar, Broadway Bar and Grill, City Hall and the American Legion, shirts are $12 for kids, $15 for adults or $20 for XXXL. All proceeds from the T-shirt sales go toward paying for Heritage Days.

“We have such great support from this community and we’re really focusing on bringing the past firefighters back together with the present firefighters,” Zenner said. “This is a job that just takes you in. And we’re hoping this celebration shows that.”

-Emily Buss