NEW LONDON — New London Fire Department will dedicate a memorial tree at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15 at New London Fire Station, 7063 Highway 50 to honor fallen firefighters.
Every year in September the village volunteer fire department holds a ceremony to honor and appreciate the firefighters who have served in New London Volunteer Fire Department.
“We start out by having coffee and doughnuts, and when it’s time to start, we have our chief talk and explain why we did this,” explained Chief Gene Carey Sr. “Then we have a prayer read by the New London Methodist Church, after that we allow the families of the deceased members to hang some type of picture or ornament on the tree that honors their loved one, and finally we have a small fireworks display which lasts about 2-3 minutes. The tree will stay lit and the ornaments will hang every day until spring, at which time we take the ornaments off and get ready for the next year.”
The memorial tree got started because the fire department had a few families whose loved ones had passed away and they wanted to honor them for the time they had served on the fire department. They came to the chief and discussed some type of memorial at which time the firemen decided that they honor 9/11 every year, but there was nothing to honor their own.
“So we decided to do it with a tree as it will stand tall and proud for a very long time just like our firemen did,” Carey said. “We started out with just a tree and some ladies in the fire department decided to have a few functions to help raise money to help build our memorial park.”
The chief said, “Kelly Ross and Carolyn Carey started to spearhead the functions. Ross started a family bingo at the fire station where every person playing brought a $10 gift, and it costs $2 at the door...which went into the tree fund. Kelly and Carolyn also hosted a Paint and Sip party about every 3-4 months, where people pay $40 to paint, and part of the proceeds went into the tree fund.”
Carey also runs the Fireman’s Kitchen where food is available during events and proceeds go to tree fund. The firemen also took the 50/50 drawings during meetings and put the funds into the tree account.
“Since starting the tree account we have been able to purchase three flag poles to put behind the tree, and concrete was bought and laid down thanks to Firefighter Howard Petrie,” Carey said. “A vote was taken to name the park and it was voted on to name it ‘New London Volunteer Firemen’s Memorial Park.’ We purchased two park benches to put around the tree so people can come and sit and enjoy the memorial. We are looking to add two fire hydrants around the tree, and when they are done getting painted, we anticipate having them permanently mounted to the concrete. We are also trying to save up for a granite firefighters’ memorial headstone to place behind the tree.”