LAKE GEORGE - The Hudson Valley Volunteer Firemen's Association dress parade is likely to be a spectacle that surpasses any seen in Lake George, at least in recent history, event organizers and local officials are saying.
The cornerstone event of the Association's 120th annual convention this week in Lake George village is this full dress parade, which traditionally is a procession that takes four to five hours to move through the village.
Not only will thousands of firefighters be marching down Canada Street beginning at noon Saturday, but as many as 20,000 spectators will be lining the streets, watching the paraders garbed in both conservative and colorful, ornate uniforms.
Leading the parade will be the Warrensburg Volunteer Fire Company's 1936 vintage Ford fire truck carrying the event's Grand Marshal, Lake George Town Supervisor Louis Tessier, who is retiring this year after 26 years in office.
About 140 fire companies will be marching, and more than 60 marching bands will be participating. Hundreds of pieces of modern and antique firefighting apparatus are also featured. With 5,000 or so marchers expected, the parade is anticipated to be one of the largest in the Association's history, Mayor Robert Blais said.
But the scale and popularity of such a parade has its drawbacks.
Lake George Village officials have issued a warning to for residents and visitors to expect a shutdown of traffic in the Village during the parade, and at other times, lengthy delays.
A smaller Mardi Gras Parade at 7 p.m. Friday kicks off the weekend's festivities. The 50's-themed parade begins at the Lake George High School and continues south to Beach Road, terminating at the former Gaslight Village Park. Compromised of 60 units, the fun parade is expected to last between one hour and two hours.
Serving as parade chairman, Blais is encouraging spectators to arrive before 11 a.m. All back streets of the village will be open during the parade for parking as well as the Million Dollar Beach parking lot, Beach Road lot and other private lots.
Visitors should use Exit 21 to access the festivities that will include fireworks at 9:30 p.m. Friday and the awards ceremony at 8:00 p.m. Saturday in Shepard Park.
Several Warren County fire departments, EMS squads and Fire Police are assisting local volunteers in coordinating traffic and emergency services throughout the weekend.
The Lake George firehouse's telephone, 668-5083, will be manned from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on June 20 if the public has questions or concerns.