This year the parade will be held on Sept. 9, starting at 2 p.m. at the high school. As in each of the past parades, firefighters from Secaucus and elsewhere around the state will honor the outgoing chief and welcome the new chief. Chief Lawrence Sanzari has served the department as chief for the last two years.During his reign as chief, the fire department managed to finish modernizing its fleet, acquiring a new fire engine for the north end - an engine due for delivery in about a year.
In January, Robert Cordes will replace Sanzari as chief.
This parade - as in the past - is expected to bring in representatives of more than 50 fire companies from around the state. This is the largest event of its kind in the state and during the last parade in 1998 more than 300 different pieces of firefighting equipment made their way through the streets of Secaucus. The parade this year is expected to draw the similar numbers. Some of these will be competing for trophies, while others will come to pay tribute to the Secaucus fire department.
As in the past, this year's festivities are expected to include marching bands, and trophies will be awarded at Kane Stadium for a variety of categories from Best Fire Truck to Best All Around Unit.
"We have an independent judging association scoring the parade participants, and then we award them trophies," said Councilman John Reilly, a firefighter who no longer is part of the parade committee. "But the reason we're so popular is the hospitality the town puts forth."
The nearly 60 categories were selected by a committee from the fire department, said First Assistant Robert Cordes, who has served as trophy chairman in the past.
A remarkable range of equipment is expected, including some of the oldest vehicles still in service. In 1994, Sayreville sent every piece of equipment its township owned (after, of course, making arrangements with towns around it to cover in case of fire).
"Ninety percent of those who come are volunteer," Cordes said, though many of the paid departments also send representatives.
Two years ago, the parade committee gave away about $4,000 in trophies, though the cost isn't paid by the taxpayers. Local business people contribute to the event by donating the cost for specific categories. For instance, two years ago, the first place trophy for the "Oldest Antique in Line of March" was donated by Secaucus Liquors, and the second place trophy by the town historian, Dan McDonough.
"A lot of people dedicated a trophy to someone who is deceased," said Cordes.
On every other year since the great Dundee Island fire of Passaic in 1985, Raymond Cieciuch, former captain from the Washington Hook and Ladder (and a possible candidate for 2nd assistant chief) makes sure there is one special trophy set aside in memory of William "Bo" Koenemund, the Secaucus volunteer firefighter who died battling the blaze.
Although each firehouse has its own piece of Secaucus history, Engine Company No. 1 celebrates its 100th birthday along with the town's this year, making this year's parade particularly special.
The company was formed in 1900, although it was then known as Secaucus Hose Company No. 1 and located on the corner of Front Street and Minnie Place, as opposed to its current location on Plaza Drive next to the library - where it has been since 1957.
Come to the parade
The 49th Fire Chief's Parade will be held on Sept. 9 at 2 p.m., starting at the Secaucus High School and making its way to the Secaucus Municipal Government Center via Paterson Plank Road, Front Street and Centre Avenue. Parade Assembly begins at noon.
Earlier in the day, the traditional judging of fire apparatus will take place from 8:30 a.m. to noon at 100 Plaza Drive in Harmon Meadow Plaza. An antique & rescue squad display will be held at First Avenue from 10 a.m. to noon. Free pony rides for children will be available, and so will an antique cars display.
Refreshments will be available at Kane Stadium (Windsor and Dorigo drives) following the parade.
The parade will also feature a special appearance by the New Jersey Nets, NBA basketball team, the "Power-N-Motion" team cheerleaders, and Sly the Fox, the team mascot.
Trophy presentations will be held at Kane stadium at 5 p.m.
A national honor
The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation will honor two Hudson County firefighters in October who died during performing their duty last year.
Joseph F. Tagliareni, Jr., of the Secaucus Volunteer Fire Department and Brian A. Lee of the Jersey City Fire Department will be recognized at the 19th Annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service as among 101 firefighters nationwide who died in the line of duty in 1999. The annual public tribute, held at the site of the official national memorial in Emmitsburg, Md., will take place on October 8, 2000.