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Giving, receiving light up fire brigades' weekend

Dave White
Dave White - The Western Star

Crackling embers, exploding fireworks, blazing bonfires and attentive local firefighters safely lit up Guy Fawkes Night on the beach in McIvers on Sunday.

Beyond the shimmering darkness, over the hill five miles away in Cox's Cove, firefighters there were also counting their blessings following a musical church fundraiser given in their honour Saturday night.

Indeed, it was a weekend of giving and receiving for young and older folk alike on the Bay of Islands lower north shore, as the volunteer fire brigades in both towns heralded the community support shown for the work they do to help keep people and property safe the year round.

In McIvers, more than 50 people including dozens of children braved the November cold at the brigade's annual community bonfire, enjoying the heat, free food and the leaping flames put off by Chief David George and his team of firefighters and the department's fundraising Firettes, returning appreciation and keeping an eye to public safety all at once.

"It's really a community (sponsored) thing," he said, noting that town council, the local improvement club and firefighters have chipped in with costs through the 30 years since the popular event was started as a means to limit the number of traditional Nov. 5 bonfires which were scattered about town prior to it inauguration.

The McIvers Fire Rescue Service's annual Fireman's Ball is also on the schedule this month, slated for Nov. 18 at the community hall. Member service awards will be presented, with music and dance to follow.

In Cox's Cove on Saturday night, some 20 local and area performers entertained the packed pews at the Emmanuel tabernacle as the church played host a freewill concert that raised more than $1,100 in support of Fire Chief Wayne Payne's crew.

Among others, McIvers Chief George and Lisa Marie Park, a mother of two and part of the local team, stood busy Bonfire Night handing out spritzy sparklers and running lighters hot for the many children otherwise enjoying the fiery scene around them. Doting grandmas like Vivian Blanchard and brigade helpers including medical first responders Janette Foote and Judy Burridge helped serve up hot chocolate, roasted marshallows, weiners and hotdogs for anyone big or small wanting some.

Dark's early arrival in the fall back to standard time came with a quiet sky and outside temperatures on the beach approaching 0C degrees in the still night air. The weather was a far cry from prior November outings, firefighters Calvin Burridge and Benny Lovell, stoking the big blaze, remembered recent years when sleet, cold wind and rains played havoc with the bonfire startup and fireworks, dampening clothing and spirits as well.

Sunday's twin blazes were packed with driftwood and windfall trees, abandoned non-toxic transport pallets and old fencing material piled by brigade members during the day. Also coming in handy were hundreds of thousands of discarded paper Chase the Ace tickets. Come Home Year 2017 organizers had been legally required to hold on to the latter for at least 12 months after the group's main event lottery fundraiser ended in September of 2016.

Sanctioned and hosted by the Pentecostal board of directors and church members, Saturday's fundraiser in Cox's Cove was well-received by the musicians and an appreciative audience. Food, fun, fellowship lent to a strong showing of support for the local volunteer fire department and the need to keep its equipment and service provisions up to date.

Securing board approval for two non-denominational gospel concerts at the church this year, directors Darren Park and Chris Keats were also instrumental in helping organize a springtime concert to assist the Cox's Cove Recreation Committee in putting new fencing on the community playground.

Dave White welcomes your Bay of Islands news and events information at 660-5712, or email at: bayofislands2008@gmail.com.

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