By Kim Walter -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Thursday night's Firefighter Reception wasn't just a chance for citizens to come out and enjoy themselves; it gave the area's firefighters an opportunity to relax and build camaraderie.
Firefighters from Winchester and surrounding jurisdictions, including Frederick, Shenandoah and Warren counties, came together at the Greenwood Fire and Rescue station for food, entertainment and fellowship.
This was the 80th reception for the area's firefighters. The Queen-designate, her family and entourage made appearances, along with the honorary fire chiefs.
Rick Patterson greeted people as they arrived. He serves as a volunteer firefighter for Stephen's City.
"I always wanted to be a firefighter, so after I retired I finally had the time to take it up," he said. "I'm very glad I made that decision."
As Frederick County's Fire and Rescue Association president, Timothy Price has been to his fair share of receptions. He's been a volunteer for 27 years, and said each year's reception is just as important as the last.
"It''s a good time for us all to get together and reminisce on the past year. It's nothing depressing, we're just having a good time," he said. "We're still on duty, though"
Price said it's also interesting to socialize with firefighters from other areas, like D.C.
"They have some impressive stories to tell, but we here in the valley have our challenges too," he said.
Dennis Linaburg, Frederick County Fire Chief, agreed that it's nice to get the firefighter community under one roof.
"Fire services are built around helping the community in a time of need, so its nice to get some acknowledgment for what they do," he said. "A lot of times when we're in the community, it's because of a tragedy, but this is about getting out and having a good time."
As for the weekend ahead, Linaburg said that each year presents a different challenge, but rescue personnel will stationed throughout the festival area.
In the Firefighters Parade today, the National 9/11 Flag will ride along with personnel. The flag was destroyed in the aftermath of the events on 9/11, but was eventually stitched back together.
It was also on display and guarded at Thursday night's reception.
"This is very special," Linaburg said. "I was at the the stitching ceremony earlier today, where folks had a chance to put a stitch in the flag that will eventually go to the 9/11 memorial."
"That was...well it was very touching," he said.