May 27, 2014 Allie Wenner Uncategorized
Since he was a kid, Mike Cramer has been attending fire department field days. He said that 25 years ago, it wasn’t uncommon to attend a different department’s field days every weekend – on some weekends, there were may have even been two field days.
These days, however, that just isn’t the case in Central New York. Cramer said that in total, there are only three or four field days happening this summer.
“Attendance has really been dwindling over the last 20 years,” said Cramer, the captain of East Syracuse Fire Department’s station No. 1 and the field days chairman. “People’s lifestyles have changed from what they used to be. There are two-income families, kids do everything these days – everyone’s on the go – and a lot of departments don’t have the numbers to volunteer for a weekend to make it happen.”
When Cramer joined the East Syracuse Fire Department in 1990, there were 100 members. Since then, that number has dwindled to about 55 members today. Additionally, an increase in events being held by the city of Syracuse has drawn people out of the suburbs and into the city.
“Are you going to go walk around a field day or are you going to go to the fair? Italian fest, Irish fest – there’s so much other stuff going on these days.”
Despite the lower attendance numbers, the East Syracuse Fire Department is putting its all into making sure the event can still take place. For them, it’s a chance to get out into the community and give back to the residents.
“We’re just not ready to get rid of it. We want the community to circle around its residents – it’s still a hometown fire department. We still want to be important to everybody,” he said.
Each year, the fire department mails out ten $1 raffle tickets to every home in the fire district. 200 of those tickets are drawn during field days, and prizes are given out, even if the winner isn’t there to receive them. The department also sells $100 raffle tickets, which are for cash prizes. The first place winner get 25 percent of the money collected, and the amount decreases for second, third and fourth places and so on. All together, the fire department gives back 49 percent of the money from ticket sales.
The rest of that money goes toward community relations: donations, and little league sponsorship, for example. It also pays for retention services for the fire department members – cable TV, Gatorade and soda, to name a few.
“We’re earning our own money to pay for our own things. It doesn’t cost the public anything on their tax bill,” Cramer said.
Field Days 2014
The East Syracuse Fire Department Field Days will be held at Loomis Field from Thursday, June 19 through Saturday, June 21. There will be live music Friday and Saturday night, and a parade at 6 p.m. on Saturday. Kids can ride the rides for 50 cents a ticket on Thursday and for $13 with a coupon on Saturday afternoon.
Several area fire departments will be competing in events to win points towards a trophy, which is awarded at the end of the weekend. On Thursday and Friday, the departments will face off in a pushball competition – a game that’s been played at the event since before most people can remember. Pushball is played with three firemen on each team, who hold onto a hose spraying water. The object of the game is to move a volleyball-like ball, which is strung over the court, behind the other team so that it goes all the way to the opposite side of the court.
“It’s a camaraderie thing between departments,” Cramer said. “We all know each other – if there’s a fire, we’re all going to be together.”
Field Days will be held from 6 to 11 p.m. on Thursday, 6 p.m. to midnight on Friday and from noon to midnight on Saturday. For more information, contact email@example.com or call 671-3380.