By Joe Beck
Wayne Sealock's memories of the annual Front Royal Volunteer Fire Company's annual fireman's parade go back a long way.
The 2014 version of the parade, scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday with a new route, will mark at least the 50th year of Sealock's participation.
Sealock, 59, remembers putting chalk on the street to mark the starting line for parade units when he was 8 or 9 years old.
The parade was a big event for the fire company then and now, Sealock said.
"All of our equipment will be there, every company in Warren County will be there, and then we will have counties from outlying areas," Sealock said.
Police Chief Norman Shiflett said in a news release the parade will be following a new route this year to reduce traffic congestion.
The route will take the parade from the intersection of Stonewall Drive and Commerce Avenue north on Commerce Avenue to the carnival grounds on East 8th Street next to Bing Crosby Stadium.
Traffic detours will be in effect around the downtown area beginning at 4:30 p.m. and no parking will be allowed on the north side of East Stonewall Drive after 2:30 p.m. All of Commerce Avenue from South Street to North Royal Avenue will be closed during the parade, and all traffic passing through town will be directed onto Royal Avenue.
Sealock said firefighters welcome the parade as an opportunity to greet the public without the frenetic and sometimes grim conditions of life-saving operations.
"To me, it's about letting firefighters show their wares, getting on their apparatus, and you're not going fast to help somebody put out a fire," Sealock said of the parade. "People can actually see the firefighters and their equipment."
Sealock said he hopes the parade will also boost attendance for the firefighters' carnival, which began July 9 and continues through Saturday at the carnival grounds. The fireworks display is scheduled for Thursday.
Hot dog relish sold in containers at the carnival over the last 45 years or so is a "big fundraiser" for the department, Sealock said.
"We still have to go out as volunteers and raise money," Sealock said. "I don't think people understand the training we have to go through. The volunteers have to go through the same training as career people, and the majority of them have full-time jobs and families to balance."
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or email@example.com