NORWICH — Downtown business Ashby Ann will be hosting a Firemen’s Appreciation Day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 13.
The event is completely free to attend and will take place at the Ashby Ann store, located at 24 S. Broad St. in Norwich. Special visitors from the Norwich Fire Department will be in attendance, including NFD Chief Jan Papelino, firefighters, and an NFD firetruck.
“I just went over and I talked to Jan [Papelino] to see if the guys could come over with the truck and do a little book reading, education on fire safety, their equipment, do it fun like that. But then I’m like, this thing’s getting big, so let’s just celebrate them and do something bigger,” said Ashby Ann owner Kirsten Vidler-Mackey.
“It’s going to be exciting, and it’s just spreading more positivity towards the firefighters that don’t really get that much acknowledgement or appreciation, or days to honor just them,” she added. “I just wanted to do more positive stuff for the community and show the little guys something a little more than just readings and sing-alongs. Just more fun stuff, because we need more stuff like that.”
The day will not only serve as a way to show appreciation for the members of the Norwich Fire Department, but also to educate children on fire safety and firefighting equipment.
“We’re going to do it out on the street side, so the kids will be able to access the driver’s side, and let parents take pictures of them maybe sitting behind the steering wheel and stuff like that,” said Papelino. “Depending on how hot it is, maybe we can get one of the folks to put the turnout gear on with an air pack, and the kids can kind of see that it’s really a person, there’s somebody in there. That’s one of the things when we go into schools we try to help them understand, that it’s a person in there, and that it isn’t somebody that’s bad.”
Visitors can enjoy a slew of tasty treats at the event as well, including fire hydrant cookies donated by The Cottage Bakery, candy donated by Minty’s Candies and Treats, popcorn donated by Deja Brew, yogurt donated by Chobani, as well as pizza slices or gelato donated by Nina’s Pizzeria.
Kandi’s Kitchen food truck will also be in attendance and parked right out front of the store, as well as the Lickety Split ice cream truck.
Additionally, attendees will have the chance to enter to win gift baskets donated by Ashby Ann and other downtown merchants, or bicycles donated by Mackey Monuments. Children can also enjoy a book reading by Chief Papelino.
Vidler-Mackey said she hopes to make the Firemen’s Appreciation Day an annual event, to show community support for the department, help to educate area children, and encourage an interest in firefighting.
“Their volunteers are low, and their full timers are low, so it’s even to get kids more interested in going that route in a career someday,” she said. “I want this to be big for them, I want it to be big for the kids. It’s not about me. I don’t care about making money that day; I care about giving back to my community because this is the community that raised me.”
“We’re looking forward to it,” said Papelino. “It'll be a good time. It’s all about the kids, and hopefully they enjoy themselves and get to spend a little time and learn a little bit about what we do.”
Ashby Ann is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. The shop stocks a wide array of products, ranging from children’s toys, baby clothes, stationery, cooking supplies, home decor, gifts, and much more.
More information on Ashby Ann can be found on the Ashby Ann Facebook page.