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Orange Volunteer FD cancels annual carnival due to COVID concerns

By DOUG FENICHEL, Correspondent | June 04, 2020 | CONNECTICUT

Story No. 060420102

ORANGE, Conn. – For the first time since World War II, the annual Orange Volunteer Firefighters Carnival will not be held this year.

Fire Chief Vaughan Dumas made the announcement, citing the danger to the community’s health posed by COVID-19. The carnival is the department’s primary source of revenue and takes place at the end of July and beginning of August. This year was to include some special celebrations because it is the department’s 95th Anniversary.

“As a result of the current public health crisis and the need to protect all citizens, we are forced to cancel our primary source of income, the Firefighters Carnival,” Dumas wrote in a letter to Orange residents. “As a result, your support is more important than ever.”
Dumas said the department will be conducting its annual raffle, usually part of the carnival’s excitement. This year, tickets are being mailed to residents as usual, and the chief is promising some great prizes, including a $10,000 gift card. Raffle tickets will also be available for sale at Orange Town Hall, 617 Orange Center Road, and at Knight’s Power Equipment, 268 Boston Post Road. The tickets can be mailed back to the Fire Department.

“People look forward to the raffle and are always supportive,” said Dumas. “This year, it’s even more important that people support these fundraising efforts. Our goal is to provide dependable fire protection to the Town of Orange while avoiding a tax burden on businesses and residents. The raffle and other fund-raising efforts are vitally important to the continued success of the Orange Volunteer Fire Department.”

The carnival’s cancellation is doubly disappointing to firefighters, who are celebrating their 95th Anniversary.

“This department started in 1925, and we were looking forward to sharing our celebration with the residents,” said Dumas. “Our plans included showing off some state-of-the-art equipment and skills. Now, that will have to wait also.”

The carnival has been a regional tradition since it started on the Town Green in 1928. In those days, there were fewer rides and more concessions. There was also live music and dancing.
The raffle was part of the program from the first year, when the grand prize was a Ford automobile. Other prizes over the years have included a gallon of paint, $5 worth of gas, a ton of coal and a toilet seat. The prizes are more exciting this year.

That first year, the carnival made about $3,000 and covered most of the department’s budget. Today, things are more expensive. Equipment is larger and more complex and training is a non-stop exercise undertaken by the firefighters.

“Our goal is to continue providing state-of-the-art fire protection to the town,” said Dumas. “That isn’t cheap. Last year, we purchased a new apparatus to replace a 1978 piece that no longer met current safety standards. Equipment, training and supplies are expensive. We’re willing to donate the time, but we look to the town’s residents and businesses to support our efforts. While the town government is very supportive, there is no annual fire tax to support our budget.”

Raffle tickets and other donations can be mailed to the Orange Volunteer Fire Association, P.O. Box 878, Orange CT 06477. In addition, donations can be given through the fire department’s Facebook page or at the department’s website, Online donations are through PayPal.

“We appreciate everything the residents do for us,” said Dumas. “I also know that the pandemic has created financial difficulties for some townspeople. Those who can’t contribute this year should know that we are grateful for their past support. Our heartfelt thanks go out to those who can contribute. Either way, your Orange volunteer firefighters will continue to serve you and the rest of this community. Together, we’ll get through this.”

This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.