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A Century of Proud Volunteerism; Roxbury Firefighters Ready for Big Parade

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Roxbury's first fire truck, photographed in 2015
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Roxbury's first fire truck in its youth Credits: Roxbury Fire Department
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ROXBURY, NJ - More than 100 firetrucks ambulances and other emergency vehicles will roll down Main Street in Succasunna Aug. 12 as the Roxbury Fire Department celebrates 100 years of service.

For Roxbury Chemical Engine Co. 1 Firefighter Tommy Bilancia, it will be the culmination of more than a year of sometimes stressful planning. As chairman of the centennial celebration, Bilancia’s been hard at work.

“There is a lot that goes into it,” he said Saturday. “Every day I’m dealing with calls from different fire companies asking if there’s still room.”

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Currently, the parade will have four marching bands and representatives from about 40 fire and emergency medical departments, Bilancia said. “I say ‘about’ 40 because every day I get a call or two,” he said, noting that all three Roxbury fire companies will be there.

The parade, open to the public, will start at 1 p.m. at Kenvil Avenue in Succasunna and proceed west on Main Street to Roxbury Chemical Engine Co. 1’s firehouse at 122 Main Street. After the procession ends, the firefighters will host a “block party” at the firehouse.

There will be food, music, vendors and bounce houses for kids, “stuff for everybody to do,” assured Bilancia.

The parade celebrates the formation of Roxbury’s first fire department – The Roxbury Fire Engine Company -  which took place June 19, 1917. The department was created in response to a June 9, 1915 fire that destroyed several houses and stores on Main Street, said a statement from Engine Co. 1.

The engine company has held onto its first fire truck, a 1917 Model T Ford Chemical Engine. The antique was recently restored and is being held until parade day in a secret location, Bilancia said.

It will be driven by veteran Roxbury firefighter Charles Alpaugh, one of the parade marshalls. Also serving as marshalls will be fellow long-time firefighters Louis Bizzari Jr. and Bill Egbert.

’For a guy like me, I feel that this parade is about pride,” Bilancia said. “We’re paying homage to the firemen that sacrificed their time and effort for last 100 years. We want to showcase that with a large-scale event. People can come out, listen to music, socialize and gather. It’s a brotherhood thing. That’s why we are having so many firefighters coming.”

The parade will go past the Roxbury Public Library where there will be a reviewing stand set up for special guests and dignitaries. “There will be speakers there and we will have an individual announcing every fire company and its chief’s name,” Bilancia said. “It will be a prime location for viewing the parade.”

With the big event a week away, Bilancia is confident all the many pieces will come together. “I’m excited,” he said. “I have a lot of irons in the fire.”

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