Antique fire trucks show they still have the spray

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When Richard Quetta previewed last Sunday’s 14th Annual Rhode Island Antique Fire Apparatus and Equipment Show, he noted: “We will have several added attractions this year.”

Perhaps the antique apparatus aficionado – who has his personally owned old-time fire engine that’s a memorial to his late brother Providence Fire Department Battalion Chief Frank Quetta – should have said “we’ll have all sorts of interesting things going on” inside Johnston War Memorial Park.

For young and old alike, you see, the “Johnston Jewel” was like Mecca for everyone and anyone who enjoys those shiny red fire trucks that were on display in a number of shapes and sizes Sunday five hours.

Two pumpers, for example, used water from the park’s pond to shoot streams of water into the air that captured the eye of event-goers as well as motorists driving up-and-down Hartford Avenue (Route 6) throughout the day.

One of those stunning streams of water came from 1968 650 Pumper that’s owned and operated at shows like Sunday’s event by the Nicholson family of North Attleboro, MA.

“The show,” as Quetta and other officials assessed, “was a huge success. We had 45 fire trucks in this park today and two drove in from their homes in Pembroke, MA. and Westbrook, CT. People who came here today really enjoyed what we presented.”

With Joe Vingi – who owns and operates Pleasure sounds Unlimited – sending all kinds of oldies music into the day’s chilled air – people were amazed with the conditions of each and every apparatus that Quetta explained “are all personally owned and maintained fire trucks.”

Moreover, as Quetta and many officials who gathered around the Providence Canteen traveling kitchen enjoying everything from grilled hamburgers to hot coffee: “We received a lot of positive comments on the Johnston Historical Society display along with the 1936 Maxim brought in by the one-time Thornton Volunteers.”

Many folks, in fact, were amazed to see Albert Aurecchia, now 90 years old, climb into the driver’s seat of the 1936 Maxim that is owned by a group known as the Thornton Volunteers who once fought fires with the ageless and still shining brightly beauty.

Aurecchia was accompanied by his buddies – former Thornton Firefighters Alan Zambarano, 80, and John Marrocco.

Likewise, Lou McGowan – the JHS president – and his wife Bel set up a display of old-time fire trucks and firefighters as well as other ageless photos from their award-winning non-profit display that’s based at the Museum Barn at 101 Putnam Pike.

Sunday’s show was also a great event for parents to photograph their children inside the cab of several apparatus like when Mike from Westerly welcomed Kristin Proulx and her son Lucas, 3, to his 1957 fire truck.

The Rhode Island State Fire Marshals department, which is now headed by former Johnston Fire Chief Tim McLaughlin, also played a role in the show’s success Sunday.

Staffer Vinny Quinterno came armed Sparky, a robot-like operated toy that simply thrilled each and every youngster and perhaps in some cases their parents, too.

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