DURYEA — There were the usual entries in the Germania Hose Firemen’s Carnival parade Friday night in Duryea – the military vehicles, the twirlers and the Cub Scouts. There was even a cadre of Wildcat cheerleaders, marching smartly along in front of the cluster of Wildcat mini-football players.
And, there was at least one group of people who never marched before. More than a dozen workers from the Schott North America plant in Duryea. They sported dark blue T-shirts that read “Schott Strong” as they marched with star-shaped helium balloons and tossed packs of Gummi bears to parade watchers. Many were long-time employees, others just started. There was even Frank Pallien, of Scranton, studying engineering at the University of Scranton and who is “just the summer intern.”
It was one way to show support for the community and most of all the firemen.
“They were there for us, so I’m here to support them,” said Dave Sapak, a 34-year Schott employee from Harding who joined with his fellow workers to thank the stalwart firefighters who answered the call at Schott in March.
It wasn’t just the Germania fire crew, either.
More than 34 fire companies from around the region worked for more than 11 hours to battle the blaze that broke out in a warehouse area.
“A lot of those crews are represented here tonight,” Sapak said. “We’re just trying to say our thanks in some small way.”
Marching in the parade and even spending a little time at the fire company’s biggest annual fundraiser on Foote Avenue would have been a nice break from the work being done to bring the high-tech glass plant and research facility back up to functioning after the fire’s destruction.
Plant managers got the rebuild going right after fire crews okayed the site for workers to return.
“A small group got the plant at least functioning again,” said Joanne Taffaro, of West Pittston, who helped with project management at the outset.
It wasn’t a matter of letting things cool for a few weeks, either. Schott workers produce glass products that can be found deep in the ocean on submarines to as far away as deep space on the Hubbel telescope or the space station. And the demand for the specialized glass doesn’t take time off.
“A lot of people depend on what we produce,” said Ken Warabak, who will be celebrating his 40th anniversary as a Schott employee next year.
And there were the engineers and production workers who had to wait their turn to get back into the plant, some as many as six weeks.
“And, we’re getting it done,” said Bob Dzieciol, of Avoca. “We came a long way. And we still have a long way to go. A lot of people worked a lot of hours. And we got a lot of support in this community.”
So, they marched.
And, so many of those workers also work within the community that supported their workplace when the help was needed.
There are people like Dave Herron, of Duryea, who applies protective coating to some glass parts at Schott – and who is also a fire policeman for the Germania company. He was at the parade to direct traffic. And as organizer of the fledgling “Little Miss Germania/Little Mr. Germania” pageant, he shepherded this year’s winners into their parade vehicles.
The 2015 Little Miss, three-year-old Sophia Matys, of Jenkins Township, got to ride inside the “green car and wouldn’t get her tiara wet,” but Little Mr. Germania, Max Edwards, also three, sported his over-size gold crown in the back of a convertible. The winners from last year’s inaugural pageant also got their own cars to ride in, along with pageant judge, 19-year-old Caroline Jones, who is the current Miss White Rose City, representing York in the Miss America pageant system on her way to becoming Miss Pennsylvania.
Alijah Behm, of Duryea, now at the ripe old age of 4, got to pass the crown to his successor at the pageant, said his mother, Maria Weitz.
“He’s excited about riding in the car,” she said. “And about throwing candy to people. Or, now that I think about it, he’s probably more excited about eating some of that candy himself.”
Under Herron’s guidance, the various units lined up without a hitch, starting with one of the borough’s police cars. The marchers took off as well, twirlers tossing batons and cheerleaders entertaining watchers with their lots of spirit. The Cub Scouts toted small American flags. Marchers from the Polish Falcons, a national fraternal organization, wore red and tossed some highly sugared treats to all they passed.
And the grand finale of the parade was the line of fire-fighting, rescue and emergency vehicles from all over the area. About 35 in all, ambulances, command cars, rescue trucks for both wilderness and water, and, of course, fire trucks and ladder trucks, let the world know they were on parade with their own symphony of sparkling lights and blazing sirens.
The host company, Germania Hose Co., brought up the rear with only two vehicles. That’s because the rest of the crew was busy working at the carnival itself, something that has been going on as long as anyone can remember.
The volunteer fire company was founded in 1903 and still boasts a membership of 67 willing to protect their community.
“I’ve been a member of the fire company for 59 years,” said Jim Steer, of Duryea, who will be 80 in October and who can still climb a fire ladder when he’s needed. “And the carnival has gone on every summer since I was a kid.”
Steer said the highly organized effort that fills the fire company parking lot with rides, various games and sales booths and beer tent has come a long way.
“When I was a kid, there was a silk mill across the street from where the fire company is on Foote Avenue. That’s where the firemen got the steam for the clams,” he said. “And they set up planks for the bar where they served the beer.”
Now the firemen and fire police officers, many of whom also work at Schott, serve the community one weekend a year by serving up their own “secret recipe” potato pancake batter and keeping carnival goers safe while they enjoy the amusement rides.
“We’re a big part of the community no matter where we live,” said Dave Yuhas, a Germania fireman who works at Schott and lives in Clarks Summit. “We are there to serve. The people support us. And we try to give a little back as well.”
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