Henry Brown spent a lot of time with Frito on Saturday.
The 9-year-old was drawn to the petting zoo - provided by Canterbury Trails in Grovetown - at Fire Fest 2002 Saturday. His favorite animal was Frito, a Mediterranean mule.
"He loves animals. This made his day," said his mother, Debbi.
Though the petting zoo, carnival rides and games were lots of fun for children, the goal of the event was to educate people on fire safety issues at the end of National Fire Prevention Week and promoting October as National Fire Safety Month.
The Martinez and Grovetown departments led tours through their fire-safety houses, while booths including Augusta Richmond County Fire Department, Gold Cross ambulance service, the Georgia Fire Sprinkler Association and Fort Discovery gave practical demonstrations and gave out information for children and their families.
At only 4 years old, he already knows all the tools and gets his mother, Nancy, to take him by Martinez Fire Department engine companies often -so often that many of the firefighters know him and take time to show him around when he comes by.
Evan Green, 3, reaches through a fence to pet a camel at the petting zoo.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"They thrill him," Mrs. Sizemore said. "He wants to be everything they are."
Of course, there is no question what he will be this Halloween - a firefighter, again. Emulating his heroes, Jim practices putting out the "azalea fires" in the back yard, sleeps in his firefighting pajamas with his stuffed Dalmatian and spends a lot of time in his coat and boots. Jim also already knows the stop, drop and roll technique of escaping a burning building.
"Go get 'em, boys" is what Jim yelled as he cheered on his favorite firefighters as they competed against teams from four other departments in the muster-competition events.
The event was organized by the Rotary Club of Columbia County and the Columbia County Fire Chiefs Association with proceeds divided among participating fire department including Appling, Martinez and Grovetown, rotary club charities and the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital.
Jim Sizemore is fascinated by anything having to do with firefighting.
With approximately 5,000 visitors, proceeds are expected to top last year's $25,829 by about $15,000, said Pauline Lasher, a Rotary Club member and marketing and promotion manager for the festival.
"This is a great day," said Lasher said estimating over 5,000 visitors to the festival. "We had much more community effort this year."
In addition to carnival games and rides, Smokey Bear, Comcast's Hey Arnold and Sparky the Fire Dog were popular attractions.
Kids piled into fire trucks from all over the county, wore fire hats and even got to squirt a real fire hose. Jim got practice with the hose and was excited he rang the bell target with the water.
More daring festival-goers had the chance to ride the Saturn of Augusta hot-air balloon and win one of two raffled rides on Gold Cross's AirMed helicopter.
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