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Girardville St. Patrick's Parade to honor fallen firefighters

This year's march on April 1 aims to honor the lives of two volunteer firefighters killed in the line of duty.

GIRARDVILLE, Pa. — The walls of the Hibernian House in Girardville are decorated with pictures from the past twenty St. Patrick's Day Parades

Preparations are underway for Girardville's St. Patrick's Parade, now set to step off on April 1.

Owner Joe Wayne has planned every one but says this year, they're doing things differently. They are using the parade to honor the volunteer firefighters who save lives throughout Schuylkill County.

“We had an incident where two firemen from a neighboring county in the New Tripoli fire company lost their lives by fighting a fire in the eastern part of Schuylkill County. So we changed our idea last minute and decided to honor the firemen. We thought it was only proper to do so,” he explained.

Parade chairman Steve Barrett is a volunteer firefighter in Frackville and was there last December, working on the fire in West Penn Township alongside the two firemen who lost their lives.

“We've had a series of fires in our local area around here. Our firemen are going to bed at night, not knowing if we're going out in the middle of the night to go out and come back to our families. And that fire is a prime example of what could possibly happen,” Barrett added.

From t-shirt designs to picking a grand marshal who's been training firefighters for decades, the parade is designed around commemorating all emergency personnel who risk their own lives for others.

“Our shirts this year are the first time in history in our parade where we don't have anything that says 'The Girardville St. Patrick's Day parade.' The shirt just has the firemen seal, and on the back, we have on there, 'Proud to honor, support, and join,'” Wayne said.

Organizers hope this will encourage others watching the parade to recognize the volunteer firefighters in Schuylkill County and to join them.

“We really have a lack of volunteers, so the guys who really do go out there are probably doing a lot more than what they did in the past, like 20, 30 years ago when our grandfathers and uncles have done in the past. And the training we have to take now is a lot more advanced,” Barrett said.

Because of expected bad weather, the Girardville St. Patrick's Day Parade will step off on Saturday, April 1.

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