over the Nautical Mile, Freeport Fire Department Executive Director Ray Maguire said he was optimistic that the showers would hold off — and they did.
By 6 p.m. on Aug. 11, firefighters, dressed in their formal blues, were in line, ready to march in celebration of the department with a Second Battalion parade that welcomed firefighters from neighboring communities.
“I knew we were going to have it,” Maguire said of the parade, shortly after stepping off.
The procession started at Casino Street and Branch Avenue and headed down Woodcleft Avenue, ending at Sea Breeze Park. It included fire departments from Babylon, Baldwin, Bethpage, Island Park, Long Beach, Oceanside and Point Lookout-Lido, along with Bellmore-Merrick Emergency Services and the Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
As each department marched past elected leaders, Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy saluted the firefighters. “Thank you to our volunteer firefighters and first responders,” he said to a cheering crowd. Family members and friends greeted firefighters at the park.
Dressed in a red firefighter’s uniform complete with a helmet, 4-year-old Aiden Brooks Cummings stood in front of Tropics with his grandmother Di-ane Samuels, identifying the types of fire trucks that drove by while waving to the firefighters. “I want to be a fireman,” Aiden said.
“He can tell you everything there is to know about firefighting,” Samuels said. “His favorite trucks are the hook-and-ladder ones. I won’t be surprised if he grows up to be a firefighter.”
U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen, who have sailed into Freeport in the summer for the past 20 years, marched in their whites. “We get such a great reception from the village,” said John Formisano, a Naval Academy tactical command officer. “The mayor, the fire chief, the recreation department have been outstanding in making sure we’re taken care of. They make a real effort to make sure we’re welcome.”
At Sea Breeze Park, the midshipmen presented the village with a plaque in appreciation of its hospitality. “To the village of Freeport for the support of our squadron,” Formisano read.
The evening also featured food sponsored by Nautical Mile eateries, and live music by Generations. The festivities ended with fireworks at 9:15 p.m.