By Jorge Batlle
Skaneateles Village Historian
Article 89 of the Village Law provides that the village organizes a “public inspection and parade of firefighters”. It was up to the chief to declare a specific day as an “inspection day”.
This day varied from the end of August to October. For example, in 1888, inspection day was September 12. Inspection was carried out by village administrators who were considered fire marshals. A small parade followed. It was not a fundraising event.
As early as 1876, the fire department had a parade. For the one on October 10, the ministry hired the Skaneateles Band for $6. On September 10, 1889 there was a parade, run and dance at Legg Hall organized by Skaneateles Torrent Engine Company #.1 In December of that year they held a fundraiser for New Years Eve at Legg Hall.
In 1892, Inspection Day was September 12, with a parade and supper. In 1893, inspection day was September 19, with a public reception at the new fire station at the corner of Jordan Street and Railroad Street (Fennell Street). This open house included a parade, music from the Borodino Band and photos with various politicians.
Between 1887 and 1894, about 30 states adopted Labor Day as a national holiday. It was created in the late 19th century by the labor movement to celebrate workers and their achievements. President Grover Cleveland made it a federal holiday on June 28, 1894. That year, the parade and inspection were canceled due to rain.
In 1895, the ministry organized the day of inspection on August 23. In 1896, Inspection Day and Parade fell on the new federal holiday, September 11. There was dinner at The Packwood House (Sherwood Inn).
no. 1898 Skaneateles Free Press announced that the Village Labor Day Committee will offer baseball games, bicycle races, a Southern Cake Walk, a parade of decorated boats, a music concert and a Grand Ball at Legg Hall. It was under local retailer Levi Brounstein.
In August, Fire Chief Bray designated Labor Day, September 6, as the inspection day for the department. There was a departmental parade at 10:30 that morning. The following year, the fire chief designated September 12 as an inspection day.
Inspection day and parades were not considered fundraisers for the fire department. A fund-raising event was a week-long bazaar in December 1894 at Odd Fellows Hall. It brought in $721.04 which was used to purchase uniforms. Another event was less successful. It was a minstrel show in February 1896. Revenue was $150.55 and expenses were $149.30 with a net of $1.25.
Eventually, in 1900, the department stabilized Inspection Day to become Labor Day, and it continued. In 1904, the department imposed a fine of $1 on a member missing on the day of the inspection.
In 1906, after the annual inspection, the department invited the Waterloo Fire Department to an outing at Ten Mile Point.
On August 8, 1910, a motion was made to have $10 worth of fireworks on inspection day. The motion was defeated. A new motion was introduced to use part of the village’s annual $100 fireworks allowance. This motion was passed. At a subsequent meeting in August, they voted to have no fireworks and have a dance. But, at the September 12 meeting, the minutes indicate that a draft should be drawn on the Treasury for $125 to pay for the fireworks. Skaneateles Free Press states that the fireworks were fired from the steamboat dock. There was a concert at the band pavilion in the park and a dance at the Odd Fellows Temple.
On August 27, 1915, the department held “Old House Week” with a parade, sporting events, pie-eating contest, tug of war, with cash prizes and ending with bonfires. ‘artifice. In 1916, the village was under quarantine due to the poliomyelitis epidemic. For this reason, the inspection day has been moved to November.
In 1943, the fire department voted to end the annual Labor Day celebration for the duration of the war. In August 1945, the ministry sent out letters asking for funds. The Labor Day event resumed in 1946.
Most of these events took place at Clift Park on the shore of the lake. Fireworks were fired from the end of the municipal pier or from a barge on the lake. In 1954, the city repaired the pier (jetty) to accommodate the fireworks. In 1956, according to the department’s minute book, they voted to have “Labour Day as usual in Genesee Street Park.”
In the minutes of the June 15, 1959, fire department meeting, department chairman Carl Fisher said he and fire chief George Spearing attended a village board meeting on June 8 June and that the village would allow the use of Austin Park for Labor Day activities. . John Williams and George Scriven proposed that the department hold its field day at Austin Park. The motion is carried.
1964 brought up the discussion about amusement rides. Insurance costs were a factor that required further investigation. The kiddie rides were discussed in 1965. The location of the rides was suggested between the Sims building and the tennis courts. It was in 1970 that “The Wonderful World of Rides” introduced six rides, a popcorn stand and six other concessions. The profit from the event was $5,468. This money was used to purchase future fire trucks for the department. This tradition continues today. New trucks are returned to the village for $1.
In 1974, the Fire Department’s Labor Day Committee proposed that all events be held at the ice rink (Allyn Pavilion) and eliminated the use of tents. Alcohol has been approved for Austin Park. The boat sinking competition was held at Sandy Beach. In 1975, the Labor Day event was changed to two days, Sunday and Monday. This, along with the sale of alcohol, the profits grew to $21,240. The money was paid into an account reserved for the purchase of fire trucks.
In 1979, the washrooms at the rink were out of service due to a new addition to the building. This prompted the use of porta-johns.
In 1998, Labor Day was canceled due to a major storm that hit the area. The New York State Fair has also been canceled. The 1998 Labor Day event was completed by moving it to October 10 and holding it in an airplane hangar off Kane Avenue.
In 2009, the event was changed to Saturday and Sunday, giving department volunteers the actual vacation to spend with their families.
Today, the fire chief still performs traditional inspection day duties, examining fire trucks and uniformed volunteer members, as they did 146 years ago.