Fire Department Carnival Cooking For Bicentennial

Steamed clams, hamburgers, hot dogs, hot sausage, salt potatoes, soda, and water.  About 10 to 15 fire department volunteers will be manning the grills tomorrow (September 9th) as Lansing celebrates its Bicentennial with an old fashioned community carnival.  The celebration is a throw back to the time when the  Lansing Fire Department used to host annual carnivals, combined with a sprinkle of the old 'Lansing Day' celebrations.  If you haven't seen a poster (or our Lansing Star article two weeks ago), Fire Commissioner Darrell Rhoads, who represents the Fire Department on the Bicentennial Committee, wants to make sure you know all about it.

"A lot of people were shocked in a good way," says Rhoads.  "They were surprised that the town is doing something like this again.  We went to the Concert in the park to raise money with a 50/50 raffle.  I told everybody I sold a ticket to about the event, the day, and the parade...  90% of them didn't know and were quite surprised and excited to see something like that is happening."

Bicentennial CarnivalCarnival rides were dropped off at Central Station Tuesday, in preparation for the Lansing Bicentennial Celebration tomoorw.

A parade starts at 10:30, followed by the carnival, which runs from 11am to 4pm.  The parade starts at Woodsedge Drive, and will process west on Ridge Road until it gets to Lansing Central Fire Station.  DJ Rick Uhl will provide music all day, and local contributors to the events will have tables set up.  Walaa Maharem-Horan will be selling cotton candy for the Lansing PTSO.  Cargill employees are set to volunteer throughout the day, and the company donated $10,000 to help fund the celebration.  Lansing Fire Department volunteers will cook and serve food all day.

The department members have a permanent kitchen in a pavilion behind Central Station.  That provides stations for Fire Commissioner Robert Wagner to cook salt potatoes, and Deputy Chief Brad George to be chefs for the day.>

"Brad will probably work the grill," Rhoads says.  "Bob has his own 'salt potato patch' --he has his own hat that says 'Potato Guy', and a big plaque.  We hope we'll have a sunny day and sell everything we have.  I'd rather sell it than be stuck with food!"

The last Fire Department Carnival was in 2011.  The carnival was never a big money-maker for the Fire Department, which used whatever profits it earned to fund department items, as opposed to fire district funding that pays for fire stations, equipment, and the necessary items needed for emergency response.  The department, composed of volunteer emergency responders, had held the carnival each year, for the most part, to 'give back to the community'.  But the same department members tended to staff the carnival year after year, and eventually burned out on doing all of the work.  Rhoads says he would like to see it return.

"I'm hoping the Bicentennial carnival sparks a little interest for department members to try to bring something like the carnival back here," he says.  "There are a lot of people who think it's too much work for the same people all the time.  That's why we stopped doing it in the past, but with new members we'll see what happens.  If we can see interest in the town, hopefully it happens somewhere.  It would be ideal."