Since the day Ryan Corey, 2, visited the Port Jefferson Fire Department and was given a tour of the trucks and equipment, he has loved firefighters.
“That started the fire in him,” said his mom, Jessica Corey. “The firemen were all so welcoming.”
On Saturday night, Corey sat in his red wagon with his friend, Luke Donarummo, also 2. The duo, wearing firefighter costumes and hats, clapped and cheered as men and women from 30 fire departments marched by them in the Port Jefferson Fire Department’s 125th Anniversary parade celebration.
They weren’t the only fans cheering them on. Hundreds of residents from Port Jeff and surrounding towns lined Main Street near the fire station as dusk fell to celebrate the monumental anniversary and thank the men and women who routinely put their lives on the line to rescue others.
The firefighters put on quite a show, with more than 12 bands and many stations driving their oldest and newest fire trucks. After the parade through the streets, everyone was invited back to the Port Jeff fire station for a block party, with free hamburgers, hotdogs, beer and music.
“I think they are having a really good time,” said East Setauket resident Keith Buynoch about his two daughters, Lexie, 6, and Chloe, 3, as they waved to the firefighters in the parade.
Port Jeff’s First Assistant Fire Chief David Williams, who has been with the department for 32 years, said the department was honored by the show of support from the other fire departments.
“It’s absolutely incredible the brotherhood and sisterhood from the other departments,” he said. “We even had departments from Nassau and Connecticut want to celebrate with us.”
Stony Brook Fire District Commissioner Peter Gustafson, 81, who has been a firefighter for 59 years, said the departments are big supporters of each other.
“We get together quite a bit,” he said, leaning against one of Stony Brook’s oldest trucks after the parade. “It’s a big family.”
Port Jefferson Third Assistant Fire Chief Paul Langlois said the department is a “very tight” group of men and women.
“We are a small department, but we are very aggressive, very active and very close,” he said.
Williams said the department was thrilled with the support from local businesses in donating food and supplies for the event, and the community camaraderie shown by residents.
“We wanted the community to realize that this is their fire department,” he said. “We are proud to serve them and proud to be a part of the community.”