NEW FAIRFIELD – The Lions Club of New Fairfield is well- known for putting together one of the best parades in the area every Fourth of July. This year brings a special commemoration of our local heroes who work behind the scenes to keep our town running every day.
The New Fairfield Lions Club parade theme, New Fairfield Strong, celebrates the tenacity and resilience of our community. Our local first responders, who work together to keep our community safe, went above and beyond the call of duty when the storm hit on May 15. We still see the remnants of the devastation of the microburst that hit our area just a few weeks ago. The Lions Club is taking the opportunity to say thank you to our first responders, members of the Police, Fire, EMS, Communications, Emergency Management and Public Works departments, by naming them all as this year’s Grand Marshals.
In hearing of the Lions Club selection for Grand Marshal, First Selectman Pat DelMonaco said, “Everyone went above and beyond to make sure our residents were safe. Each morning department heads would meet at the Emergency Operations Center to make plans for the day. With 90-95% of our roads blocked, everybody worked together to provide emergency access to our roads.” The enormity of the job and work to reach every resident, and the need to clear each road tree by tree, wire by wire is hard to put into words. New Fairfield’s First Responders worked alongside town residents to reconnect a community fragmented by many obstacles.
The First Selectman credited all of the in-town departments as instrumental in getting the job done, including the New Fairfield Shelter managers and the mutual aid the town received from the National Guard, Red Cross, the Governor’s office and many surrounding towns.
Chief of Ball Pond Firehouse, Mike O’Toole, reflected on the post-storm recovery. “We have a phenomenal team in place,” he said, “While the damage from the microburst was initially overwhelming, the departments all worked together with communications dispatch in order to organize teams. Life and safety were priority.” Communications between each department in conjunction with the First Selectman and Eversource worked in concert in order to secure wires, clear roads, and get to people trapped in areas and those with emergency needs. “Everyone worked so well together. We have very dedicated members,” said O’Toole.
In the days after the storm, communication between all departments and neighboring town emergency services departments was paramount. Bucky Riehl, Buildings Manager of Public Works in New Fairfield stated, “It was a little overwhelming at first and workers couldn’t get in right away. We did all we could do to clear roads and support all the departments.”
In determining this year’s Grand Marshal, Lions Club Parade Chair Doug Dorsey said one of their club members brought forward the idea of celebrating the First Responders to say thank you. “I thought it was a great idea,” said Doug. “We saw it as a nice opportunity for them to get recognition from the town and to acknowledge what they all did for us,” he added.
Come out this July 4th and cheer on our everyday heroes as a thank you for all the incredible work they do day after day. The parade begins at 9:30am and runs from Dunham Pond to Memorial Field. Free hot dogs from The Lions Club will be served after the parade by the Gazebo.
By Jean O’Neill