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Louisville Fire Department hosts Mother’s Day dinner


LOUISVILLE — A Mother’s Day tradition continued Sunday at the Louisville Volunteer Fire Department’s fire station.

The firetrucks were pulled out of the bays and tables and chairs were set up in their place.

More than 900 pounds of turkey, along with all the trimmings, had been prepared in anticipation of the crowd, which was already waiting at the doors when they opened at 11 a.m. They formed a line and patiently waited to get into the serving area as the holiday-like aroma of a turkey dinner wafted through the air.

It was nothing new for the volunteer firefighters, who have been offering the full-fledged turkey dinner every Mother’s Day for the past 55 years.

Veteran member Kenneth Blair said the tradition was suggested way back when by someone who wasn’t even affiliated with the Louisville Volunteer Fire Department. Instead, the annual event was the brainchild of George Riley of Madrid, who had family members in Louisville.

“He came and helped kick off,” said Mr. Blair, a 46-year member of the department.

Mr. Blair has been involved with the effort himself more than 50 years.

“I worked here when I was a kid. I wasn’t even a fireman. It’s a big tradition here in Louisville,” Mr. Blair said.

If the past years are any indication, he and Chief John Sheets were anticipating a big crowd — bigger than the one that already filled their parking lot with vehicles.

“We average 950 to 1,000. One year at the school we had 1,300,” Mr. Blair said. “We started at 11 o’clock and they’re usually here about 10:30.”

“They eat here or take out,” Mr. Sheets said.

The meal is prepared in the Massena Central School District’s kitchen, according to Mr. Blair — and this year’s feast included cooking 926 pounds of turkey.

“We start on Saturday. We go down and peel all the potatoes and prepare all the turkeys. At midnight we start sticking the turkeys in the oven. Everything is done in the kitchen,” he said. “It’s a big day, a big tradition. It takes the whole department to run it.”

Mr. Blair said the Mother’s Day dinner isn’t just an opportunity to honor moms with a home-cooked meal; it’s also an opportunity to raise money for the fire department.

“It’s one of the biggest fundraisers,” he said.

Other fundraisers the firefighters hold include pancake breakfasts in February and on Easter, when they also have a big Easter egg hunt for kids.

This year is extra special for the Louisville firefighters because they’ll be sponsoring the Northern New York Firemen’s Convention from June 7 to 9.

“We’re very excited,” Mr. Blair said. “It’s going to be a big thing for our small town. Massena’s been booked for the last three months solid.”

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