WAUSEON - When a multiple-alarm fire raged in downtown Wauseon in April, volunteers rolled in to help.
By the hundreds they came. Firefighters from nearly 30 departments with trucks and tankers. Church members with homemade food. Business owners with donations of supplies and equipment.
On Sept. 29, Wauseon will put out its welcome mat, along with roasted hogs, band music, and other activities, as a way to say "thank you" to everyone who pitched in.
"The city of Wauseon decided it wanted to thank all of the over 300 firefighters and the 29 fire departments," said Kevin Nelson, a Wauseon firefighter.
The firefighters' recognition event will run from 5 to 10 p.m. in downtown Wauseon. Firefighters and their families and others who assisted are invited.
Mailers have been sent to nearly 30 fire departments.
"We are hoping to get as many to attend as possible," said Mr. Nelson.
It's anticipated that as many as 1,000 guests will attend the free event.
A hog roast, complete with potato salad, hot dogs, cookies, and beverages, will be served.
Games for children, including miniature golf and a variety of inflatables, will be included in the activities, and Madhatter, a local band, will perform.
Fire departments are being encouraged to bring one of their trucks to put on display.
Local churches have been asked to donate cookies, and other organizations are pitching in, too, Mr. Nelson said.
"We didn't hit up people for donations. We said, 'Hey, this is what we are doing,' and a lot of people are pitching in and want to help," said Mr. Nelson, a member of the public relations committee of the Wauseon Firemen's Association. He is treasurer of the organization.
Invitations have been sent to organizations that assisted during the fire, including the Fulton County Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Wauseon fire department's women's auxiliary, law enforcement agencies, and Wauseon city departments such as the water department.
Everyone in the area seemed to have a hand in helping out during the fire, he said.
In recent weeks several firefighters, council members, community leaders, city officials, and others have been organizing the activities. The city of Wauseon is covering the event's expenses, he said.
Investigators ruled the fire that destroyed a half-block of buildings was set intentionally inside Doc Holliday's restaurant. The fire remains under active investigation by the State Fire Marshal's Office.
Last month Wauseon Downtown Development, a new company, announced plans for the construction of a $6 million complex featuring a 20-room hotel, shops, and a restaurant to replace buildings along North Fulton and Elm streets destroyed by the fire.