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Green Brook Fire/EMS 50th anniversary Christmas star

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

GREEN BROOK — For 49 years, area residents traveling Route 22 during the winter holidays could look skyward toward the Watchung Reservation to see a star shining bright.

The star again was hoisted for the 50th time, December 5, 2009 behind the Green Brook firehouse No. 2 on Washington Rock Road West to shine down on in its 50th anniversary year.

"It's a special 50th anniversary for the star and 10 year anniversary of our departments this year," said Bill Coughlin, President and FireFighter/EMT of Green Brook Fire/EMS, the township's combined emergency services unit, which sponsors the star every year since 1948.

Coughlin described the star fashioned in 1959 as 20-by-20 feet of sheet metal covered with 138 porcelain light sockets. I began the sheet metal renovation in 2002 and the electric was done this year with myself, Firefighter John Richards, Firefighter Matt Halicki and Probie Tim Richard.

"We purchase new light bulbs every year. I just picked up 138 bulbs from Home Depot and got a surprised look from the guy in that department! When you add in the electrical overhaul we recently did on the star, it adds up to about $400, the original amount spent to get the star made and up."

He added he still has the original bill, although historically it's not for the original star.

"The original Green Brook star was cut out of wood in 1948 and at a different location and raised on a forty foot tree by the Green Brook Fire Department, established in 1928 and then a separate department," recalled Coughlin. The EMS unit was established in 1950; both became a shared township fire/EMS service in 1999, Coughlin added.

Each remains an all-volunteer organization: The fire department is led by Fire Chief Rick Connolly and the Rescue squad is lead by Chief Marisa Mercuri.

The star operates on a timer. While the department admits they like to switch to more economical and environmentally green light-emitting diode technology (LED), "the cost is just too much during these tough times to update, but we are looking into that to ensure another 50 years," Coughlin said.

Green Brooks F-16 seventy-five foot ladder truck was needed to hoist the twenty foot star into position.

Its glow will continue to be visible through New Year's Day.

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