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funded, but this is not true.
He went on that every item the department needs to operate, from axes to ladders, is very expensive. “These are special items; you can’t just pick them up at the Home Depot,” he said.
Hourigan went on that, for a new fireman, a protective suit costs $3,000 and a pager, $400. While he and Kohl apply for federal grants for equipment, sometimes the funds come through and sometimes they do not.
He is dismayed that the hose company’s annual fund drive, which is responsible for most of its budget, has had a steady decline in donors. In 2016, the department received 200 less donations that it had gotten in 2008. More startling is that the mailing list asking for donors has increased in that period of time by 50 households.
“We just don’t understand how people don’t get it,” Hourigan continued. “If you give $45, you get 100-percent return on your money. Every penny goes directly back to the community, into providing the services that we do.”
To replace the funds lost from the bazaar next year, the hose company has been in talks with the Fairview Township supervisors to get a referendum this November on a fire-services tax. “No one wants to talk about a tax, but I don’t think anybody can deny that not having the fire department is not an option,” Hourigan stated.
A big part of the decision to shut down the bazaar had to do with its lack of profitability. In 2016, the bazaar made $34,198 –this is less than what the bazaar made two decades ago, in 1996, when it made $34,402.
While food and games brought in funds for the hose company in the past, that has changed significantly over the past several years. Most of the food items make only a small profit or break even, despite the fact that McGinnis and others put in an intense amount of labor and prep work. Beer sales are less than half of what they were 20 years ago.
Games, too, are nowhere near as profitable as they once were, particularly due to the hose company having to comply with the state laws pertaining to small games of chance. The laws make it illegal for a child under 18 to play a game where the value of the prize exceeds the cost to play, usually 25 cents.
Children can’t pick pull tabs to win a stuffed animal, teens can’t spend a quarter to play instant bingo, and no wheels of any type are allowed, all hurting the profits that the bazaar once made, in the way of at least $2,000.
Hose company volunteers are frustrated, Hourigan said, because they run one of the only area bazaars that comply to gaming rules. But to violate the law would be a misdemeanor offense. “We conform and no one else does. That’s not fair,” Hourigan said. “We try to do it the right way and we get punished.”
The 44th and Final Bazaar
This year’s bazaar, to be held on July 14, 15 and 16, will be bittersweet for many, especially those who have run the annual event for decades. It will be Hourigan’s 35th time as chair of the bazaar and he had announced last year that this would be his last, hoping another would step forward to take his place as chair; no one did.
Reminiscing on years past, Hourigan remarked, “We grew the bazaar from something relatively decent size to something huge. It got bigger and bigger every year and it was exciting to see all the crowds of people that came out.”
Many hose company members’ children grew up attending and later working at the bazaar. “It was exciting to see the community coming together and it was well-organized and well-run. We had a wonderful run for all the years that we did it,” he said. “We had the hottest nighttime temperature on record once and rainstorms that fish would fear, but everyone stuck with it.”
In addition to Kohl, McGinnis, and Prohaska, Hourigan credited his wife, Sharon, Phil Holbrook, Candy and Dave Smith, and Kathleen Jolley as being integral in running the bazaar. He also noted that Chico Kirn made potato pancakes and Eric Aigeldinger made steak sandwiches at the bazaar for 30 years. Also, Hourigan said, without members of the Mountaintop Family Center Church to help run the games, past bazaars could not have been successful.
Wanting to make the last bazaar memorable, Hourigan enlisted the Tom Slick Band to play a reunion show there. When the bazaar started in the 1970’s, the band was popular and played there for several years. The band members were thrilled to be contacted by Hourigan to play for the final bazaar; they will perform on Sat., July 15, from 7:30 to 10:30
Also scheduled to perform is Carl
Alber and his band, Sundance, on Sunday, July 16, from 4 to 7 p. m. Longtime bazaar DJs Tom Emanski and Mike Reilly will play Friday and Sunday nights respectively.
The annual firetruck parade will take place on Saturday at 4:30
p. m., with firemen touring many of the township’s subdivisions, spreading excitement especially to neighborhood children as they hear the blare of truck sirens.
Other entertainment will include the popular Magic Show with Pat Ward, on Saturday at 6:30 p. m., with Pat providing balloon animals to children in attendance before and after the show.
A New Merchandise Auction will be held that Sunday, at 5 p. m., in the firehouse building. With the auction earning $9,300 last year, bazaar officials hope this year to bring in over $10,000 in profit from that event. Much of the auction items will be posted on the fire department’s website, MTCH1.com,and be advertised in the newspaper.
A separate Theme Basket Auction will be on display throughout the weekend, featuring an array of unique baskets to win. Appealing to people of all ages, the contents of each basket are donated.
The usual endless assortment of food and beverages will be offered, as will games and prizes. The Moon Walk Guy will provide inflatable rides, including a giant bounce house, slides, and obstacle course.
The Hose Company is looking for volunteers for this year’s bazaar, to work the food and game stands. Hourigan noted that volunteering in this capacity is a good opportunity for students to obtain community service requirements and he invites anyone interested to call him at 570-715-7750 or 570-474-9381.
Also, anyone who wishes to contribute to the Hose Company’s annual fund drive, may send donations to P. O. Box 163, Mountaintop, Pa 18707.