WAYNE, NJ – Packanack Lake Fire Company #5 escorted a very special guest on their classic 1951 Mack Fire Truck on Saturday afternoon to help bring cheer to the neighborhood they serve.
The most famous rabbit in the world donned a cloth to cover his face, climbed aboard the back of the beautifully-restored, sixty-nine-year-old fire truck and toured the neighborhood streets around the Packanack Lake area escorted by the full complement of Company #5’s Fire Engines.
Before the tour began, the volunteers from Company #5 posed for pictures with the Easter Bunny, each holding boxes of donated girl scout cookies.
“Girl Scout troops within Wayne made donations of cookies to first responders and front-line medical workers,” said Wayne Fire Commissioner Bob Minarick. “Today I will be distributing these to the Fire Department, but they have also donated cookies to the Police Department, Dispatch and EMS.”
Every year, Company #5 escorts Santa at Christmastime, but this is the first time the Easter Bunny has hopped on the back of the ’51 Mack for a tour around Packanack Lake.
When asked why the last-minute decision was made to escort the Easter Bunny, President of Fire Company #5 replied: “People have been staying home for weeks, and we thought this would be a nice thing for the community, while still reinforcing the need for social distancing. We’re going to spread a little hope and cheer.”
Along the route, blasting sirens could be heard streets away, drawing families outside to stand in front of their homes and wave to the Easter Bunny as he cruised by.
Families kept their distance from each other, and many wore masks, but as the trucks drew closer, the excitement was evident from both children and parents.
Four-year-old Madison Frederick stood by her house holding a colorfully decorated sign that read: “Thank you Fire Co. 5!”
Ava Grochola jumped up and down, with a huge beaming smile as the Easter Bunny came by. She was wearing bunny ears on her hat and waving two pink stuffed bunny dolls. “Tomorrow is Easter!” she exclaimed excitedly after the fire trucks drove past. “The Easter Bunny is going to go to everyone’s house and bring baskets of Easter Eggs!”
The six-year-old had her own theory as to why the Easter Bunny was driving past her house: “Because we can’t take pictures with him,” she said. Every year around this time, Ava and many other Wayne kids, usually go to the mall to take pictures with the Easter Bunny, but the Coronavirus took that away this year.
The Bunny’s mask did not go unnoticed. “I know why he has the mask on,” said four-year-old Madison. “Because his germs are on Spring Break!” This sparked a huge laugh from her mother standing nearby.
Overall, Fire Company #5 drove thirty miles in just under three hours. They wove in and out of the warren of streets surrounding Packanack Lake and accomplished their mission of spreading goodness and cheer during a time when these are in short supply.