(June 14, 2019) Firefighters, their families and the general public are invited to participate in the 127th annual convention and conference of the Maryland State Firemen’s Association and Ladies Auxiliary, June 15-19.
The convention is free, open to the public and takes place at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center on 40th Street. There will be a variety of vendors selling merchandise and memorabilia in addition to informational and awards presentations all surrounding firefighting in Maryland.
“It started as our annual business meeting and it grew over the years,” said Ron Siarnicki, convention chair. “It’s been in Ocean City for the last 70 years. It is our annual gathering for our officers, recognition and awards for significant contributions to the fire service, and also our annual memorial service to honor the members of the Maryland fire service who died this past year.”
Around 15,000 first responders, their families and friends, travel to Ocean City for the event each year, according to Siarnicki.
One of the most popular events is the parade along Baltimore Avenue, with nearly 400 units participating this year. The procession features bands, floats and fire trucks, which will line up in the inlet parking lot. The parade will begin at 1 p.m. on 16th Street and will travel up to 30th Street on Wednesday, June 19.
Additional events throughout the week include the annual family night at Jolly Roger Amusement Park, Purse and Bag Bingo, a prayer breakfast, flea market, block party, 5K, and the annual MSFA Golf Tournament. The list of activities and registrations are all available on www.msfa.org.
“We have redone the entire convention website and everything now is much easier to locate,” Siarnicki said. “You can do your online registration and class signups online.”
Family Night at Jolly Roger takes place Monday, June 17 from 6-11 p.m. at the amusement park on 30th Street. There will be music, food and unlimited rides, rounds of miniature golf and trips around the go cart track during the event.
For the amusement park and food, the cost is $24 per person. A family of four for both is $80. Visit www.msfa.org for additional packages and to reserve tickets in advance.
Bingo also takes place Monday. Doors open at the convention center Bayfront Ballroom at 5 p.m. for the games starting at 6 p.m. Michael Kors, Coach, Vera Bradley, Thirty-One and Longaberger will be featured.
The prayer breakfast will take place Wednesday, June 19 at 7:30 a.m. in the convention center’s Bayfront Ballroom with Father Francis Foley, chaplain for the Naval Academy, as the guest speaker. Foley will speak about the connection between duty and service and the importance of finding balance.
“We’ve got several firefighter line of duty deaths that we’re going to honor … three to be exact,” Siarnicki said. “We’ve got 12 special tributes of members of the significant members of the Maryland Fire Service who’ve died. So the memorial service has 15 special tributes.”
Admission cost is $13 and includes an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet with scrambled eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausage, biscuits and fresh fruit.
The 26th annual MFSA Golf Tournament is slated for Friday, June 21, at Eagles Landing Golf Course in Berlin. There is a shotgun start at 8 a.m. with a complimentary breakfast bar, lunch and prizes for $75.
The fifth annual Hair of the Dalmatian 5K, sponsored by Ocean City FOOLS — Fraternal Order of Leatherheads Society, starts at the Firefighters Memorial, located at the Boardwalk and North Division Street on Thursday, June 20, with registration starting 7:30 a.m. The race will go from 8-11 a.m. Registration costs $25 per person.
To celebrate the arrival of firefighters in town, the Ocean City FOOLS — Fraternal Order of Leatherheads Society International for advanced firefighter training — will present its 10th annual block party to benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
Cowboy Coast Country Bar and Steak House on 17th Street and Philadelphia Avenue will host the event on Tuesday, June 18 from 6:30 p.m. to close.
“We have more training opportunities for our member firefighters so we’re excited about that,” Siarnicki said. “We’ve added some additional hands-on training and some additional seminars.”
Last year, more than 1,000 people participated in training presentations and classes to learn new skills for their communities, he said.
“We offer a lot of family activities and most of all it’s a chance to come down to Ocean City,” Siarnicki continued. “A lot of our members are coming for their vacations. It’s a great way to interact with each other and [the community].”
This year, firefighters, police and other first responders will be able to enjoy a soft opening and Jellyfish Festival kick-off party, Thursday, June 20, at the Cork Bar on Wicomico Street, from 7-11 p.m. with live music by One Night Stand. The party is only open to first responders.
The festival will officially open Friday, June 21 and last until June 23. A video tribute to first responders will play on Friday during the festival.
For more information on activities planned, visit www.msfa.org to download a full schedule of MSFA convention and conference events.