Firemen Have a Day in Morristown, Pa.
Firemen’s day of the centennial week celebration brought to Norristown, Pa., the greatest crowd ever assembled there. Fully 75,000 visitors were present, and it is estimated that 100,000 persons viewed the street spectacle. Five thousand volunteer firemen were in line, representing 70 fire companies. Fifty bands and ten drum corps made music for the marchers. There were 750 musicians in the procession. The parade began at 2 p. m. on May 9, and it was nearly six when the rear guard drew up to the dismissal point after manoeuvring over the principal streets of the borough. The procession was nearly three miles long and the marchers covered about seven miles front start to finish. It was said to be the greatest conclave of firemen ever held in eastern Pennsylvania, and certainly the greatest mobilization of volunteer firemen in the history of the state, not excepting the annual convention of the State Volunteer Firemen’s Association held in York last fall. To accommodate the monster crowd, Norristown was taxed to the limit. Every available inch of space along the line of march was occupied and the thousands were restrained by rope lines. Many hundreds watched the procession from windows and housetops. Excursion trains brought the visitors. Many mills in the towns which sent their fire companies, shut down to allow their emlpoyes to take part in the Norristown Old Home Week festivities. In the pageant was shown every form of fire-fighting apparatus, from the kind that obtained 100 years ago, when the fire pumps of the quaint oldfashioned machines were manned by the fighters, to the present-day auto-electric apparatus with standard chemical attachments. The contrast between “Pat Lyon,” a hand machine that was purchased by the borough of Norristown in 1813, and the up-to-date engines of the Norristown and the Philadelphia suburban companies, was striking. One of the unique features of the parade was the group of gray-haired veteran firemen from Philadelphia representing the Firemen’s Active Association. The old-timers, many of them with halting step, were tendered an ovation by the crowd. They had in line their oldfashioned hose carts. The Philadelphia suburban fire companies, with their automobile fire engines and electro-chemical apparatus, made a splendid showing and were roundly cheered. Three states—Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware—were represented in the array of uniformed men. The territory represented extends to Shamokin, Pa., on the north, to Trenton, N. J., on the east, and to Wilmington, Del., on the south. The uniforms were of every variety and class, from the old-style red shirt brigade to the gray broadcloth suits of the latest make. Not a man faltered, and there was not an accident to mar the spectacular dislpay. The parade was in five divisions. The five Norristown companies—Norris, Montgomery, Humane, Fairmont and Hancock—were given the places of honor at the heads of the separate divisions. They made the best showing in point of numbers, but were closely pressed by West Chester. There were no prizes offered to the participating companies, but each marched and acted as though the greatest inducements were being held out. Oliver F. Lenhardt was chief marshal, and Theodore Lane Bean, his chief of staff. The signal to start was given by three blasts of the fire whistle, and the route of march was Main and DeKalb streets to Hamilton, to Airy, to Stanbridge. to Marshill, to Swede, to Penn, to Green, to Main, to Ford and countermarch on Main street to Cherry. After the march the firemen were tendered a dinner in tents along the river front.