Fire trucks gathered Friday morning at Millbrook High School in Winchester, Virginia, for the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival’s annual Fire Truck Rodeo.
The event featured all kinds of emergency vehicles, from new to old, large to small, as well as dozens of antique apparatuses.
“We have pumpers, we have the ladder trucks. We have a couple tankers,” said Pete West, a member of the Old Dominion Antique Fire club. “And then we have some brush trucks which are typically jeeps or Broncos or smaller pickup trucks with a smaller pump and small water on them which are light enough to get out into the field or into the woods.”
While the antique vehicles are at least 25 years old, many are older and simply stayed in commission for decades.
For Pikesville volunteer firefighter Joseph D’antoni, his connection with the antique truck he brought to the rodeo is personal. It was the first fire truck he ever rode.
“I took my first fire call as a member of Pikesville back in 1972,” D’antoni said. “It was scary. Thank God it wasn’t a working fire but it was still scary cause you’re hanging on for dear life. Or at least that’s what it feels like.”
D’antoni says the truck later went to Bangor, Maine, before it was retired in the 1990s. D’antoni bought it and brought it back to Maryland. He says getting it back was incredible.
“It’s fantastic,” he said. “It’s truly, truly great. I love it. I love talking about it.”
Fire trucks weren’t the only emergency vehicles showing up to the rodeo.
A few Frederick County Sheriff’s deputies arrived in modern cruisers, letting kids see the interior of the cars.
Several modern ambulances were also on the scene, but only one antique ambulance joined the other older vehicles.
The ambulance, which was built in the 1970s, was used by the Ashland Rescue Unit belongs to the daughter of Bernard Sprouse, although he notes that technically she’s not old enough to have her name on the title.
Sprouse says while the isn’t still in use, he sees it as a great learning opportunity for children.
“We allow kids to get in it. And they love that,” he said. “Because when an ambulance comes to people’s houses, especially kids, they’re scared. This way they get into it, and they see it, and not really as scared when the amublance comes.”
West has been in the festival for years, and he says overall, it’s a great opportunity to share the love and the heritage of the fire companies.
“Our whole goal is to preserve the history of the trucks, and the history of the fire service,” he said.
Around 2 p.m., the vehicles were escorted to downtown Winchester in preparation for the Firefighters Parade.