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Great River FD creates life-sized Hess truck

Members of the Great River Fire Department transformed

Members of the Great River Fire Department transformed their white 1988 fire truck into a life-sized version of a 1989 Hess toy fire truck for the holidays. (December 2013) (Credit: Handout)

The Hess truck is truly “better than ever” in Great River, where local firefighters have created a life-sized version of the popular holiday toy.

Last month, about a dozen members of the Great River Fire Department customized their white 1988 fire truck to resemble a 1989 Hess toy fire truck.

The toy truck that served as the model came from the childhood collection of Second Assistant Fire Chief Paul Llobell.

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Llobell, 26, said that while on standby with fellow members in late October, they started brainstorming how they would decorate one of its vehicles for the annual holiday parade in Bohemia. In the past, they’ve created the Grinch’s sleigh, Snoopy’s doghouse and a locomotive engine. But this year, Llobell said he asked members, “What's the most iconic thing in the Christmas season?”

Many of them recalled receiving Hess trucks as gifts.

The members devoted more than 300 hours to the transformation. They added vinyl decals with the Hess logo, and authentic-looking pistons and aluminium panels, which they cut and painted. They also changed some of the lights and built a wooden red ladder that they attached to the top of the rig.

“Deep down we're all kids at heart and it was a pretty cool feeling once it all came down together,” Llobell said.

Great River Fire Chief James DiGiovanna said the truck was a hit in the parade on Dec. 1, and will be making three runs through the Great River area on Dec. 15, Dec. 21, and Dec. 22, starting at 5 p.m. each time, to distribute candy canes and deliver presents to local kids. Great River residents who would like the truck and Santa to stop by their house with their children’s gifts should email james.digiovanna@greatriverfire.com or call 631-277-3930.

Llobell said the truck is still a fully functional piece of apparatus. While in years past the department’s holiday vehicle has been converted back to its original state once the season ends, Llobell said the Hess truck may be here to stay.

“It’s been such a huge hit, the community might enjoy seeing it every year,” he said. “We might keep it.” 

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