The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

June 28, 2009

Let the games begin!

Firefighters do (friendly) battle at competition in GOTL

By SHELLEY TERRY - Staff Writer - sterry@starbeacon.com

GENEVA-ON-THE-LAKE — Volunteer firefighters generally only meet when battling blazes or responding to tragedies.

They met under happier circumstances Saturday afternoon to do what they love, plus participate in friendly competition.

About 100 firefighters, rescue workers and their families from nine area volunteer fire departments — Geneva, Geneva-on-the-Lake, Plymouth, Sheffield, Mentor, Bloomfield, Lowellville, Madison and Craig Beach — gathered for the second annual Firefighter’s Roundup at the Landing at Geneva-on-the-Lake.

Sunny skies and warm temperatures also drew thousands of tourists, families and teens to the GOTL “strip” by 1 p.m., when the children could begin their events at the Roundup — big boot race, a water ball battle with garden hoses, and a mock burning building.

A fire truck parade arrived at 2:30 p.m., and the games for firefighters started at 3 p.m. Live musical entertainment played at several venues.

Jessi Kerrel, 4, came from Mentor with her family to celebrate her birthday. Her first stop was the Adventure Zone, she said.

She waved at the firefighters as they passed by. Her 5-year-old sister, Megan, waved, too.

“Everyone is having a great time today,” said Brook Hall, event coordinator for the Roundup, Landing Festival Marketplace.

The firefighters’ competition, included a bucket brigade, a tug-of-war and a water ball battle behind the Old Firehouse Winery.

Sheffield took the lead early in the games by garnering first place in the bucket brigade, followed by Plymouth Township, second-place, and Bloomfield, third.

After a short break, the teams reassembled, putting their biggest and strongest in for the tug-of-war contest.

“Come on, you bunch of Clydesdales, PULL!” firefighter Ben Moisio yelled as he dug in his heels and led the Plymouth Volunteer Fire Department, Team 2, to win the semi-finals over Geneva-on-the-Lake Fire Department.

It was a tremendous effort, but the Plymouth team still needed one more victory to take home the trophy. They had to beat big, bad, Bloomfield.

Unfortunately, for Plymouth, the Bloomfield boys tugged hard. Although, for a minute or two, it appeared it would be a draw; but Bloomfield buckled down, and Plymouth firefighters collapsed to the ground in sweet defeat.

Bloomfield had won!

“It took willpower and teamwork,” Bloomfield firefighter Matt Fuller Sr. said, as he immediately called his wife on his cell phone to give her the good news.

The firefighters then prepared for this year’s newest event using the tower at the Wild Water Works water slides — the tower relay.

Competitors ran up the slide’s stairs with fire hoses and then lowered a hose to the ground from the top of the 60-foot- tall structure. Then they unrolled hoses before dragging a life-sized dummy across the finish line.

The contest continued into the evening hours.

There were a few “warm moments” in the heat of the afternoon when a firefighter or two got a little too hot and needed a cool drink or an ice pack, but all and all, everyone agreed it was a good time.

Trumbull Township Fire Chief Larry Morse said he brought one of the trucks from Trumbull “for show” because he just didn’t want to miss the fun.