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Small town celebrates patriotic pride, fire department

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DAYTON — Patriotic mom Nancy Riggio waved her hands in excitement, riding on a giant inflatable Pegasus, attached to the top of a truck and wearing an American flag swimsuit in the 25th Annual Dayton Daze Parade on Saturday.

She got down from the truck and stopped the parade so her cousin, Dennis Krupski of New York, could play the National Anthem on his trumpet for a crowd of people standing with their hands on their hearts.

As the excitement settled down after the parade, she said her son’s current service in the military’s Special Forces unit in Afghanistan inspires her to encourage patriotism.

“We get to do things like this because of what people do for our country,” she said.

With the anniversary of 9/11 and this being an election year, patriotism was the theme of the parade. People honored military service members and those in service closer to home.

“Firefighters and first responders are at the heart of patriotism,” Zoe Lilja, Dayton Daze board chair, said of local service. She wore yellow and green wildland firefighting attire with a customized hard hat painted in gold with rivets, a small water hose, and round steampunk goggles.

Lilja volunteers as the secretary and treasurer for the Chief Cliff Volunteer Fire Department in Dayton. She said Dayton Daze events were developed as a fundraiser for the department.

“This fundraiser is targeting the new rescue truck,” she said.

Department Chief Andy Learner pointed out the new truck being used for rescue calls. He said the Ronan Volunteer Fire Department basically donated it to his department.

“We want to do the right thing and pay them for it,” he said.

Before the Quick Response Unit of the department got the truck, volunteers often used their own vehicles to respond to emergencies in their area sent out by Lake County Dispatch, sometimes with or without the fire truck, depending on the need.

“We would throw gear on the (fire) truck and our personal vehicles, and now with this new truck, we have everything in one place,” he said.

During the Dayton Daze events the ALERT Air Ambulance helicopter touched down.Bella O’Neil, 5, and other children lined up to get their faces painted. Kelly’s Kotton Kandy spun around in a colorful pink fluff. Free hot dogs were passed out. Larry Myer played his guitar and sang a few tunes. Benjamin Garrison, certified clinical medical assistant, set up a booth to check blood pressure. Several booths contained items like bags and jewelry for sale.

Other events included a pie eating contest, tug-ofwar and cart pulling race.

Sisters Eve Learn, 12, and Isabelle Learn, 14, and their friend Micaela Redwine, 14, made their way through the crowd of people pulling goats on a leash. They were headed towards the parade route. The girls were dressed as wildland firefighters with ash-covered faces. They painted spots on the goats.

“The spots make them Dalmatians,” Eve said. She explained that Dalmatians are known to work with firefighters and they add to their costumes. The sisters said their father was the chief of the fire department so they like to show support.

The Old Proctor Store exercise class won the Judges Favorite category of the parade. The Best Vehicle was the1931 Model A Ford. Cheryl Burt had the Best Horse. Nancy Riggio and her New York family won Best Float. Dayton Elementary School Dragonites won in the children’s category. Best Organization went to the bagpipers. Riggio also took Best Female Costume. The Grand Marshal took Best Male Costume, and Best Child’s Costume went to the three girls pulling the goats.

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