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Turn up the heat

The Forsyth Township Fire Department will host the annual Upper Peninsula Volunteer Firefighters Association Tournament in Gwinn this weekend. (Courtesy photo)

GWINN — For the first time in its 114-year history, the Forsyth Township Fire Department will host the annual Upper Peninsula Volunteer Firefighters Association Tournament in Gwinn this weekend.

Volunteer fire departments from around the U.P. will descend on Gwinn for the 126th edition of the tournament, which was postponed last summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Public festivities kick off at 7 p.m. Friday and conclude on Sunday with a parade and closing ceremony.

Food vendors, live music, dancing and more will coincide with the traditional firefighters’ competition, which sees U.P. volunteer fire departments go toe to toe in firefighting skills, precision movements to ensure speed and safety, and a mystery race that will “amaze, enlighten and humor those in attendance,” organizers said.

Along with FTFD hosting for the first time, it’s also the first time the tournament will be held in Marquette County in over 30 years.

FTFD Fire Chief Jason Stansky said he’s looking forward to welcoming fire departments from across the U.P. to their community.

“We’re really proud to have the honor of hosting this year’s tournament,” he said. “The department’s been working on this real hard, and hope that our guest departments will have the enjoyable experiences that we’ve had when they’ve hosted.”

A full list of events are as follows:

Friday

≤ 9 a.m., registration at Forsyth Township Emergency Services Building, 47 N. Johnson Lake Road

≤ 10 a.m., U.P. Fire Chiefs meeting, Gwinn VFW, 54 N. Mitchell St.

≤ 11:30 a.m., Executive Board of Michigan State Fire Service Instructors Association meeting, Gwinn VFW

≤ 1 p.m., credentials meeting, Gwinn VFW

≤ 2 p.m., convention meeting with race captains meeting to follow, Gwinn VFW

≤ 7 p.m., dress parade, line up at 6 p.m. on Jasper Street starting at the Methodist church; the parade will also start in front of the Methodist church at 7 p.m., parade will go east on Pine Street to the Gwinn High School parking lot, judges stand will be in front of Joe and Son’s Auto, street dance to follow at Forsyth Township Emergency Services Building.

≤ 10 p.m., nightshirt parade, line up at 9 p.m. on Jasper Street starting at the Methodist Church, parade will start in front of the Methodist church at 10 p.m., parade will go east on Pine Street to the Gwinn High School parking lot, judges stand will be in front of Joe and Son’s Auto, fireworks to follow parade.

Saturday

≤ 9 a.m., association race meeting, Pine Street in from of Joe and Son’s Auto

≤ 9:30 a.m., captains meeting, Pine Street in front of Joe and Son’s Auto

≤ 10 a.m., races on Pine Street in front of Joe and Son’s Auto

≤ 3 p.m., RIT training

≤ 5 p.m., Don Riling and Ben Lauren road dedication at Peter Nordeen Park

≤ 8 p.m., Firefighter’s Ball, Forsyth Township Emergency Services Building

≤ 10 p.m., awards ceremony at the Firefighter’s Ball

Sunday

≤ 10 a.m., commercial parade, line up at 9 a.m. at Gilbert Elementary School, parade will start at the school and go east on Pine Street to the Gwinn High School parking lot. Judges stand will be in front of Joe and Son’s Auto, closing ceremonies to follow at the Forsyth Township Emergency Services Building.

Music for Friday’s street dance will be provided by the local band Spun. Fireworks after the nightshirt parade will be put on by FTFD’s trained and certified pyrotechnics crew.

After Saturday’s firefighter races, Shotgun Kelly will perform at Peter Nordeen Park for several hours ahead of the highway dedication and Firefighter’s Ball. The portion of M-35 that passes through Forsyth Township will officially be dedicated as the Ben Lauren and Don Riling Memorial Highway in honor of the two FTFD firefighters who have passed in the line of duty in its 114-year history, Riling in 1988 and Lauren last year. State Sen. Ed McBroom, State Rep. Sara Cambensy, State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer and the Lauren and Riling families will be on hand for the dedication. Brian Olson of the Pigs N’ Heat Benevolent Association will also be on hand for an additional presentation.

Sunday’s commercial parade ahead of the closing ceremonies will feature fire trucks and other equipment, along with a farewell to Forsyth Township from participating departments, fire equipment representatives and vendors.

For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page at www.bit.ly/3roHDXX.

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