NORWICH — Downtown Norwich business Ashby Ann hosted their first ever Firemen's Appreciation Day on Saturday, August 13, and saw a crowd of area residents who all came out to support the City of Norwich Fire Department.
The event was meant as a way to not only bring the community together, but also teach children about the local fire department, fire safety, and have fun experiences.
"You want to know what I remember when I was a kid? Riding on the back of that firetruck, on top," said Ashby Ann owner Kirsten Vidler-Mackey. "That's what gave me the idea to do this. Because I was like, oh my god, I want to do that, I want to give somebody that memory. Why not make it possible, and give kids these positive memories?"
In attendance was NFD Chief Jan Papelino and several firefighters with the department. They brought along a fire engine for children to see, and some even had the chance to sit in the driver's seat.
Several local businesses donated products and services to the event as well, including fire hydrant cookies from the Cottage Bakery, candy bags from Minty's Candies and Treats, yogurt from Chobani, face painting by local artist Sarah Youngs, balloons and helium from Chenango Welding, popcorn from Deja Brew, two bikes donated by Mackey Monuments, and raffle baskets full of products from downtown stores.
Additionally, dancers with Amber Perkins School of Dance volunteered to help with the event, as well as several community members.
"It's nice to give back to the community in all shapes and sizes, because that's what it should be. It should be about the children and pushing more positive. We don't have enough of that right now," said Vidler-Mackey. "It's good to see people interacting again. That was my main goal, it was positive interaction for the community."
Vidler-Mackey said she plans to bring the Firemen's Appreciation Day back every year, and also has some other event ideas in the works for later this year.
For more information on the store and upcoming events, visit the Ashby Ann Facebook page.
Ashby Ann is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. The store sells a wide range of products, including stationery, home decor, cooking supplies, baby clothes and toys, books, gift items, and much more.