Senate President Stephen Sweeney
Deputy Speaker John Burzichelli
Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro
Courier Post – An annual tradition of showcasing antique fire equipment and vehicles continued Sunday as hundreds of visitors passed through the Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center to admire the more than 80 firetrucks on display.
Now in its 34th year, the Antique Fire and Apparatus Show — the largest muster in South Jersey — was a delight to the many families and firetruck enthusiasts who helped continue making what organizer John Burzichelli called a successful yearly event.
“It’s a day of recognition for firefighters and their families, as well as the trucks they serviced,” said Burzichelli, a state assemblyman who grew up in a family of volunteer firefighters. “Fire trucks hold a fascination for communities.”
The six-hour free event was hosted by the Glasstown Antique Fire Brigade and featured numerous firefighter competitions, fire-related vendors and food activities.
But what everybody came for were the prodigious fire trucks, which were lined up in neatly-packed rows.
Informative displays attached to the trucks helped visitors trace the transformation of fire apparatus throughout the years, some of which harked back to the 18th century when Benjamin Franklin first established the concept of a firefighting company.
Trucks of all colors and personalities stood proudly while local families strolled by, occasionally stopping to read information about the trucks but almost always pausing for pictures in front of the alluring vehicles.
While most of the trucks are privately owned, Burzichelli said, some historical vehicles were featured by fire departments both local and as far away as Virginia.
Neil Hicks, an ex-fire chief with the Manhasset Lakeville Fire Department out of Great Neck, N.Y., said Sunday’s event was an annual tradition with the department.
“We love coming here; everybody treats you good,” Hicks said. “People love to see the trucks, the way they used to look and the way they are maintained.”
Hicks and other firefighters from the department brought with them a vintage 1948 Ward LaFrance.
The truck stood next to another vintage behemoth, a 1947 American LaFrance, which was displayed by Great Neck Alert Fire Company, also from Long Island.
“We love the camaraderie here. It’s a nice place to come to,” Great Neck Alert board trustee Thomas Madigan said. “We bring our families; we make it a day.”
Other travelers from North Jersey included the Singer family, from Teaneck in Bergen County.
The group of four were led by patriarch Moishe Singer, who is an EMS worker in New York City who wanted to pass along his fascination of fire trucks down to his two children, Kayla-Rachel and Eli-L.
“We heard there would be lots of fire trucks so we headed down,” Singer said. “I just love the lights and loud noises — I feel like a kid in a candy store here.”
Daughter Kayla-Rachel agreed with her dad.
“They’re just really cool,” the 9-year-old said. “I like the blue ones.”
“I like the white ones,” her brother Eli-L, 6, said.
On the other side of the arts center, brothers John and Sam Bombara led their sons through a show of how things used to look.
“You can’t find firetrucks like this anymore,” said John Bombara, a volunteer firefighter from Winslow Township. “They have sentimental value. It’s apparatus from a different era.”
Bombara’s 10-year-old son Anthony said seeing the various assortment of trucks made him want to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“I want to be a volunteer fireman like my dad,” he said.

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