Thursday Doors–Thanking All Volunteers

This is the door to the Burger booth.

It’s not much of a door, but it’s an important structure and it’s worth a few hundred words. That’s one of the entrances to the Windsor Locks Fire Department’s burger booth at their annual carnival.

Volunteer fire department carnivals are a summertime staple in New England, and probably throughout much of this country. There are thousands of volunteer fire departments across America. There are over a hundred in Connecticut! These brave men and women (that’s not hyperbole, that’s truth) vol – un – teer their time to protect their neighbors and the buildings and businesses in their respective towns. In our town, this carnival is one of the ways that they make money to support those operations.

The firemen started building the booth and the beer garden a couple of weeks ago. It takes time. Just like the training and the drills and the actual putting out of fires takes time. Just like helping accident victims out of cars, responding to false alarms and keeping the apparatus in good working order takes time. Their time.

Faith rode most rides alone, but I always rode this one with her.

Carneys, I guess they still call themselves carneys, roll in on Sunday night and setup the rides and the midway. I used to put our daughter on those rides when she was little and I always joined her for a couple of spins on the one pictured here. According to a family friend, that’s known as the Puke-a-Whirl.

If you’re playing bingo, drinking beer or pounding down a burger, hot dog, hot sausage or fried dough, you are supporting the firemen. They use that money the profit to outfit the space in the fire department where they hang out. They also use some of it for training and fireman related stuff. The town buys the fire trucks, heats the building and pays for the ancillary equipment but the town doesn’t pay the firemen, ‘cuz you know, volunteer. Having firemen hanging out at the firehouse is a good thing, it means they are there if there’s a fire. Just like paid firemen would be.

Friday night there’s a fireworks display and on Saturday there will be a parade. For many years, we didn’t have fireworks. Our dogs didn’t mine the lack of fireworks and Maddie would be fine without them, but the people in town, especially the children, wanted fireworks. The firemen wanted fireworks, too. We didn’t have fireworks because Bradley International Airport is only a mile away. The carnival is in the landing path and the planes aren’t very high off the ground.

Then one year, I was talking to Ken Jeffery, the Fire Chief at the time. Ken said:

We’re going to have fireworks this year.”

Really, I thought we couldn’t have them because of the airport.”

Well, it turns out, we were just asking the wrong people for permission.”

Who were we asking?

Someone at the airport.”

Ken Jeffery
That’s Ken Jeffery leading the parade when he was Chief in Windsor Locks.

Ken had decided to ask for forgiveness, if necessary rather than permission. He opted to simply “notify” the airport that we were having fireworks on Friday night and let them know that they might want to use the other runway for 20 minutes. We’ve had fireworks every year since.

Ken Jeffery passed away on New Year’s Eve in 2003. I had only known Ken for a few years, but I miss him.

I’ll visit the carnival. I’ll buy $20 worth of food tickets but I’ll probably eat less than $20 worth of food. Gone are the days when I could glom down a hot dog, a burger and a hot sausage grinder at one sitting. It’s OK, the money goes to support a great group of men and women.

This is part of Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors series. You can join in the fun from a link on Norm’s blog.


  1. Great post. I loved the pictures you’ve posted. I liked the “someone at the airport’ phrase. A very typical Indian phrase, especially here in Mumbai. “Kisne kahaa tere ko?” “Woh wahaan kisi ne kahaa”. Okay, I will translate – “Who told you that?” “Well, someone over there just said that.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. I think the whole fireworks thing was like that. Most likely, nobody actually has the authority to approve or deny them but someone thought… This guy just took the opposite approach.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lois. The Dalmatians steal the show when they walk by, even if one is out of line. Maddie is like “I heard there were burgers…hello burger..,” I have no idea how widespread this concept is but in New England, there’s one every weekend somewhere.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Volunteer firemen are great . We have one of the few remaining volunteer firehouses in LA in the next town over , Sierra Madre . Really , Dan , a hot dog , a hamburger , and a grinder in one sitting ? Good man . I could never have done it in my best days .

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s true Dan. They only added the sausage about 10 years ago. It used to be a hot dog, a burger, fries and fried dough (and an ice cream sandwich for the walk home). Then I swapped fried dough for sausage. These days, it’s just a sausage grinder (and maybe that ice cream sandwich). LA must have a pretty big paid fire department. I can’t imagine the scope of that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post and a worthy cause for sure. Funny story but for some reason earlier this week I was trying to remember if the word Carney was spelled with an “ie” or an “ey” :-D

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great Post Dan! Please keep supporting the WLFD carnival as these events are a dying breed. In this area every department (save mine) had one but they are all going away (Suffield cancelled theirs this year) because of the amount of time that goes into it.

    Great pictures of the parade. Especially the one of my truck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Tim. It’s hard to believe they can find the time. The State made it pretty much impossible for them to have a raffle this year but we will be sending them a check in lieu of buying a bunch of tickets. They get pretty good support here, but they work hard for it. When I was looking through the old pictures, I saw your truck and knew I had to include it. Thanks for all you do!


  5. Awww great stuff – small towns, volunteer firemen, carneys and dogs – the hot dogs and the petting dogs. A wonderful tribute to volunteers who literally save our lives and belongings. Great way to personalize your story with Ken and the fireworks.

    Hub can’t eat a triple meal anymore either, altho’ he STILL tests that premise once in awhile. Sadly just looking at the moving rides now makes This old Tilt-A-Whirl vet seasick; I miss that thrill.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sammy. I’ve often thought that life isn’t fair because when you can’t really afford to buy good beer and lots of food, you can eat and drink like a pig. Then, when you can finally buy some decent stuff and buy a couple of burgers without thinking about it, you can’t eat them :( At least tonight, I can bring a burger home for Maddie.

      I would probably still get on the Titl-a-Whirl. I might not be happy with myself, but I’d do it anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I think I mentioned before that a church nearby hosts the same kind of festival fundraiser, and we always go :)
    So true about the food, too. We order just about everything, and we all eat some, but we never eat it all, whether it’s at the festival or the state fair or anywhere else. Sometimes a taste is enough. I’d say the exception are cheese curds. I don’t like to share my cheese curds!
    Great to highlight this aspect of your community, Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Volunteers are like rare gems, hard to find. Volunteer firemen, that takes a special kind of person. Great tribute. So nice to see the pictures, too. I used to take my son to such parades when he was younger. Great to see the community supporting the wonderful men and women who so selfishly give their time.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Looks like you live in a town that still enjoys community! Volunteer Fire Depts. have often made the difference for those who live in rural and remote areas. It looks like the whole town had fun supporting them. I’m a little envious, except for the carnival ride part—they’re risky business if you ask me ;)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post Dan and it really got me to thinking….I don’t think I have lived anywhere since I left the Midwest that has volunteer fireman. We didn’t have any in Denver, then San Diego where we have been for the last 24 years and I’m not aware of any here in the Phoenix area….hadn’t really thought about it, but your story takes home to the midwest!! Great post!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Brothers and 2 grandsons with daughter last weekend on July 3rd. I wish my brother had sent me a few of the photos from the top of the ferris wheel since you can see the lake.
    This post made me think of the “doors” in our last. Our bedroom door when we slammed it shut and wanted “privacy” and the doors on rides when we were happy to have them tight and secure as we flew down steep hills on roller coasters. I could not do “round and round” rides, though. Despite boyfriends who tried to insist I could. Dan, although I lived in dorm and worked at Cedar Point, I always worked in the food industry. First year, under the sky ride and 2nd year at the Hotel Breakers. :)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been to Cedar Point. I can do most any ride, but not the ones that move in too many directions at the same time. I talked my wife into trying a roller coaster with me. That was not a good idea.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. That first door is exactly the kind of screen door I want. It let’s in the cool air at the bottom. Of course, I want it brand new too. :P

    Liked by 1 person

    • Years ago I made a door like that for a friend’s travel trailer. She had it up in Maine. She had a screen room attached but wanted a screen door for it because she couldn’t deal with the zipper that came with the door. My wife wanted me to make one for our house but the dog would go straight through it. Thanks for stopping by Glynis.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. My son-in-law was a volunteer fireman before he became a paramedic. I have nothing but admiration for the emergency services, they work really hard and often at the risk of their own lives and to do it voluntarily is so inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Had you shown that door and asked what we thought it was, Dan, I’m sure I would have guessed the door to a food booth at a local carnival. I’ve seen a door like that at many such carnivals — it must be standard issue! And it’s only making me hungrier for lunch, so off I go, wishing I could get some onion rings. AFTER the rides, if you don’t mind. :)

    Liked by 1 person

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