Family fun at the fire house

WMFR open house hot dogs
The crowd enjoys pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers and snow cones. - Kristin Swain | Sun

BRADENTON – West Manatee Fire Rescue personnel took a little time off from the serious business of keeping the community safe to throw a family-friendly block party.

The district’s 2018 open house festivities took place Oct. 13 at Station 1 on 67th Street in Bradenton. This year’s community gathering was so big that it reached from the fire station to the end of the block and brought out hundreds of families to meet their local first responders, take a tour of the fire station, play games and enjoy lunch.

WMFR open house flag
Old Glory flies gracefully over the open house at the end of the towering ladder. – Kristin Swain | Sun

On hand for this year’s event were representatives from Domino’s Pizza store 5038 providing pizza, Winn-Dixie store 2404 serving up hot dogs and hamburgers with firefighters and snow cones were served from the Kona Ice Truck.

Artists from Childlike Productions handed out balloon animals and painted faces. Members of the Manatee High School Keys and Canes club also donated their time by lending firefighters a helping hand wherever needed, and Holmes Beach Police Officers helped provide crowd and traffic control.

WMFR commissioners, firefighters and even Chief Tom Sousa took turns in the dunk tank where some firefighters gave a helping hand to younger ball throwers. Another popular attraction was the bounce house with a line rivaling that for the dunk tank.

wmfr open house dunk tank
WMFR Commissioner Randy Cooper takes his turn in the dunk tank. – Kristin Swain | Sun

Children also lined up to don firefighter gear and compete on an obstacle course. Firefighters helped families through the Southern Manatee Fire District safe house and took attendees on tours of the district’s rescue equipment including the fire boat and ladder truck and allowed children to take a seat in one fire truck.

The free event drew large crowds and featured on-site music and live broadcasts from AMI Radio.