NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - This past Saturday a crowd of over 650 residents gathered in New Providence to see the wetdown of a new fire engine at the New Providence Firehouse.
Jim Swanton, the deputy chief of the New Providence Firehouse, explained, “A wetdown is a celebration of the community and fellow firefighters of the arrival of a new vehicle, it’s kind of a christening.” The mood at the firehouse on Saturday certainly was celebratory, with dozens of fire fighters and hundreds of community members all gathered to see the christening of Engine 2, the brand spanking new apparatus at the firehouse. Engine 2, a 2016 Pierce Velocity, top mounted pump, can pump 2000 gallons per minute and it holds 750 gallons of water. It will serve as the “first due” engine for all fire suppression related incidents.
“It’s a real community event,” said Swanton, a 37-year member of the all-volunteer firehouse, “the community bought us this fire engine. We’d like them to come out and see what they bought us and show our appreciation.” Throughout the rest of the day and evening, different towns sent their fire trucks to spray the new engine to welcome it into the community. There was a DJ, a 50/50 raffle, a bouncy house and beer, soda and food, all compliments of the Fire Department.
As exciting as the commissioning of a new vehicle is to the firehouse, it had big competition on Saturday with the street naming ceremony for Michael “Mickey” Allocco. Allocco has served for 65 years at the New Providence firehouse. He joined the New Providence Firehouse in 1952, he became Fire Chief in 1965, and he went on to serve as the fire inspector until 2000. During his years of service he held nearly every position at the firehouse. Allocco served as President, Vice-President, Financial Secretary, Assistant Foreman, Foreman, Second Asst Chief and Fire Chief.
Mayor Al Morgan came to pay tribute to Allocco’s long years of service, “This is a special day, everyone comes to a wetdown of a new truck, but we have something more important, we have Mickey Allocco," said Morgan. "Not only do we want to honor you, we want to honor Theresa. How many times did you run out on a Sunday dinner, or watching your boys play ball, you all sacrificed.” Allocco was standing with his family in front of a big crowd, Morgan continued, “You leave a legacy of community service, you should be proud of what you have accomplished and what you passed on to your family. I know what New Providence means to you and you passed that on to me.”
Morgan then read a Proclamation, “Whereas Mickey’s service to the Borough of New Providence sets the highest standard for volunteerism, community spirit and dedication to others.” He then proclaimed June 3, 2017 Mickey Allocco Day and introduced the new street sign in front of the firehouse.
With that, former Fire Chief Ralph Parlapiano standing on a ladder, pulled off the plastic cover to reveal the sign: “Mickey Allocco Way.” The gathered and growing crowd erupted in cheers as Mickey Allocco walked over to stand next to his new sign. The DJ began blasting “Hey Mickey” as the crowd stood and cheered for Allocco. His wife then joined him for the photograph, and then his children, followed by other family members. Friends were waved in to join in the picture and slowly one by one, the substantial crowd of people taking photographs moved across the street to be in the photograph. This left just a handful to take pictures of the ever-growing mass congregating around Mr. Allocco and his new street sign.
“This is what New Providence is all about,” said Morgan, one of the few still on the picture-taking side, “this is bigger than the wetdown.” Judging by the sheer love, admiration and respect the firefighters and the community has for Mickey Allocco, that seems like a fair assessment.