HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Amid the sirens, cheers and flying candy, Ryan Bloss said she made sure her children knew that Huntington’s 63rd annual Fire Prevention Parade on Monday was more than just fun and games.
Bloss said her son plays football for Douglas Cammack, and Saturday, a dedication was held to remember 7-year-old Maeshelle, a former cheerleader with Douglas Cammack, who died in a house fire with her sister Nashaya, 4, and grandmother Ida Thompson in Huntington back in January.
“It serves as a reminder that it can happen to anyone and how important having a plan in place can be,” she said. “Not that they didn’t have a plan, but it just stresses how important it is for my kids to know what they should do in a fire.”
“Just like the parade, it gives me an opportunity to really talk about how important fire safety is,” she said.
Bloss’ 5-year-old daughter Baylei Abercrombie said she had been taught in school about stop, drop and roll and that playing with matches was dangerous.
However, knowledge aside, Abercrombie, said she couldn’t wait to get her hands on some candy.
“This parade is a great way to bring the community together in a common cause,” Bloss said. “It’s something that I have grown up going to, and being able to share it with my kids – knowing what the parade is really about – is special.”
The 63rd annual Fire Prevention Parade ran along 4th Avenue through the heart of Huntington and was held in conjunction with National Fire Prevention Week.
The theme for this year’s National Fire Prevention Week is “Don’t Wait: Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association, working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a fire in half. Meanwhile, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
Janet Beeler, 44, of Huntington, said her grandchildren were all too aware of the importance of smoke alarms.
While those instances are usual filled with more smoke than fire, Beeler said she is glad they are up on their fire safety plan.
Grandparents Shawn and Cary Dixon agree that when it comes to their grandchildren Chloe, 6, and Lily, 2, safety could not be more important.
“In preparation for the parade, we had a big conversation about not picking up matches or a lighter,” Cary Dixon said.
She said the time for the parade could not be more perfect since October is the month during which it is suggested that people replace the batteries in their smoke alarms.
“This is such a great parade for kids because it gets them started in awareness for fire prevention,” Cary Dixon said.
Fire Prevention Week, which gave rise to the parade, has its roots in the Great Chicago Fire, which destroyed properties worth $196 million, killed 300 people and left 900 homeless on Sunday evening, Oct. 8, 1871, after a cow that Patrick O’Leary’s wife was milking kicked over a lantern in the family barn on DeKoven Street.