RISING SUN — Plans are still being finalized and the search is on for people and organizations to participate in the centennial celebration of the Community Fire Company of Rising Sun.
Tammy Wiggins, one of the organizers of the 100th Anniversary, said the list is growing for units in the parade, which will move through Rising Sun and finish at the fire company on Joseph Biggs Highway.
Anyone who would like to be part of the parade needs to send an email to Steve Piatelli; firstname.lastname@example.org.
However that’s just the beginning.
“The parade starts at 10 a.m. And then around 12:30 is the ceremony,” said Kim Roland, another organizer.
Ray Ryan, a member of the Community Fire Company of Perryville, will act as master of ceremonies for the ceremony, which will include proclamations, presentations and speeches.
Roland said afterward, it will be party time with free food, a DJ, music from the band “Howz My Hat” and activities and raffles.
“We’ll have activities for the kids including a bounce house and face painting and we’ll be selling commemorative T-shirts, cups and challenge coins,” she said.
If you look closely at any of the vehicles used by the fire company you’ll see the words “Born of Ashes” and the year 1921. One hundred years ago there was a fire in downtown Rising Sun that destroyed Janes United Methodist Church, the Alger Firestone store and the home and attached business of Scott Wilson & Sons. That June 13 fire was started while pumping fuel from a tank truck to storage tanks at the Firestone store.
At that time there was no established fire service of any kind in the growing community. Authentic fire equipment came to the fire scene via railroad from Wilmington and from Port Deposit, Elkton, Oxford, West Grove, Perry Point, Havre de Grace, Kennett Square and Newark. All those hands were needed because the town’s water pressure and mismatched hydrants stymied firefighters.
According to a newspaper called Midland Journal, Oxford firefighters got connected and got one stream of water pointed at the blaze. Singerly volunteers found something to make it work in their toolbox and got another stream of water going. Other fire companies drew water from the race at what is now known as Keppel’s Mill Court.
In the 1971 program for its 50th anniversary, the late Bill McNamee, noted Rising Sun historian, wrote that “while the town was still smoking Dr. R.C. Dodson addressed a meeting ... that this tragic loss Rising Sun has suffered today should certainly make us all realize that out hand-pulled two-wheeled fire apparatus is woefully out of date.”
Dodson referred to the rudimentary human powered vehicle carrying a tank about the size of a home heating oil tank, which was the only source of fire protection.
Community leaders never wanted to see that kind of destruction in Rising Sun again so the Community Fire Company of Rising Sun was established. Dodson was its first president. By-laws were approved by the end of the month and by October the first fire engine — an American LaFrance Type 38, arrived. The firehouse had yet to be built so it was stored in a local garage. By February 1922 there was a firehouse, purchased from Mr. E. R. Buffington for $6,500. The fire company allowed the Methodist congregation to continue to use the building for worship while the new church was being built.
By 1964 the decision was made that — even though additions had been made to the fire house — it was still too small for the Community Fire Company of Rising Sun. By that time ambulance service had been added. Funded entirely by the community, the old building was demolished and a new six-bay single story fire house was built complete with a commercial kitchen and dining hall. (Today that is the home of R.T. Foard Funeral Home)
Although no government funds were given to the fire company for the project, McNamee noted in his historical account in 1971 that “the dedication was a bit extraordinary too, since it was the only time in our memory when the Governor of our State of Maryland (Marvin Mandel) ever honored us with his presence and a most complimentary address.”