Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department Drives Its Truck Right to The Party

Birthday celebrations don’t have to be postponed because of the pandemic. At least not if you live in Cabin John, Potomac or West Bethesda.

Starting about a week ago, an antique Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department truck has been driving to a house, often even up the driveway, with its sirens flashing and lights blaring to make someone’s birthday a happy one in these days of social distancing and quarantining.

Avery Comarow, the department’s public information officer, said the truck does more of a drive up than a drive by.

There is no age limit. The truck has helped celebrate with residents as young as two years all the way up to 92.

“I think sometimes it is just as exciting for the parents as the kids. It’s a fun time,” said Scott Stone, who drives the 1930 Brockway fire engine, the first fire truck that the department ever owned.

Before anyone ever heard of coronavirus, the fire department on River Road hosted birthday parties, where children and their friends celebrated at the fire station while learning about – and climbing aboard – a fire engine.

Besides allowing everyone to have fun and learn about fire safety, the parties also served as fundraisers, said Stone, who is the department’s operations director and a 47-year member.

But when Maryland asked people to stay at home and only get together with up to 10 people, the parties ended.

“I had at least eight parties I had to cancel,” he said.

Everyone was understanding, but they also were disappointed. So he decided to bring the party to the birthday honorees instead, explaining, “If they can’t come to us, we’ll come to them.”

He posted the idea on the fire department’s social media site and immediately was inundated. Stone estimated that this week he has driven up to four houses a day and currently has a reserve list of more than a dozen more birthday celebrants.

The antique fire truck is holding up well, considering it is normally only used for parades and is 90 years old.

What started as a way to make people happy on their birthday – while still social distancing themselves from friends and families – has turned into an entire neighborhood celebration.

“We get thumbs up, car horns and waves” from passer-bys. And if the family lets others know, sometimes a parade of 20 to 30 cars follow the truck and often drop off presents in the driveway, he said.

“It’s good for the whole neighborhood.”

There is no fee, but “if a family wants to make a donation, we suggest that they make it to one of the locally owned restaurants that have been supporting our first responders with lunches and dinners,” Comarow said.

Cabin John Park VFD has 100 members, of which 70 are active volunteers, he said.

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Suzanne Pollak

About Suzanne Pollak

Suzanne is a freelance reporter with Montgomery Community Media. She has over 35 years professional experience writing for newspapers, magazines, non-profit newsletters and the web.

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