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Parade, local float, prompt emotions in crowd

LAKEGEORGE- With professionalism and pride, thousands of firefighters marched down Canada Street Saturday, June 18 in the full-dress Hudson Valley Volunteer Firemen's Association parade that's been a top attraction for decades in Lake George.

Whether it's the sight of polished antique fire apparatus, high-stepping firefighters' color guards bearing a bevy of flags, or the ceremonial garb of some of the fire companies, it's a spectacle that's drawn as many as 20,000 spectators to the village. The June 18 dress parade, with 127 fire companies marching, lived up to the tradition.

The prior night's procession, with firefighters in casual dress, traditionally has reflected a festive Mardi Gras theme.

But this year, the parade had a more profound aspect, as the firefighters memorialized the emergency responders who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The Plattekill Fire Department had hundreds of people from their community marching, each bearing a poster representing one of the 343 firefighters who died in the attacks. When they marched by, many spectators had tear-filled eyes as they watched the procession, Lake George Fire Department President Tom McKinney said.

"It was pretty emotional for a lot of people," he said, noting the Plattekill group, from Ulster County, was awarded first place for their marching unit in Friday's parade.

Local float, singers evoke tears

Also touching the hearts of many was the float and procession of the Lake George Fire Department.

It featured a twin towers replica, surrounded by lit candles, memorializing the 9-11 heroes. The float also included fire company members posing as a doctor, a construction worker, a firefighter and a librarian surrounded by local children - representing people pursuing their daily routines on that fateful day. The float was followed by 60 or more Lake Georgians wearing United We Stand T-shirts, marching as they carried long red, white and blue banners.

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