Bristol’s annual Firefighters Memorial commemoration drew a crowd to the Firemen’s Memorial Park.
Bristol’s annual Firefighters Memorial commemoration drew a crowd to the Firemen’s Memorial Park following an impressive parade of firefighters, town officials and fire department apparatus throughout the downtown area on Sunday afternoon.
A ceremonial placing of wreaths commemorated the fallen members from each of the fire companies, and firefighter Dave Cairrao provided remarks on behalf of the department.
“What is today for?” Cairrao asked. “For me, ‘memorial’ kept sticking out to me…I do believe that when we pass away, our story doesn’t end. So if I take the attributes of people that have passed away that resonate with me, and I incorporate them into my daily life, then in essence, I keep those people alive always. I memorialize them daily.”
The Victoria “Vicki” Van Voast Memorial Award, issued to someone who defines the true meaning and spirit of a volunteer, was bestowed upon longtime Bristol Santa Michael Rielly, a lifelong Bristolian who founded the James D. Rielly Foundation, a volunteer nonprofit organization named in honor of his grandfather, Bristol’s original Santa Claus, which provides financial and emotional support to children and the families of military, law enforcement, and first responders hindered by economic status, physical or mental challenges. Unable to attend, his wife and children accepted the award on his behalf.