April 11, 2015 was a red (fire truck) letter day at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. In the fall of 2014, Silver Dollar City announced the reworking of their kiddie section and naming it “Fireman’s Landing”. The focus of the new area was to honor and pay tribute to firefighters everywhere. The 10 new attractions would each tell the story of the value and accomplishments of firefighters who serve communities all over the world. Of particular note was the encouragement for individuals to volunteer and serve.
On April 11 at the park’s opening, firefighters from all over Missouri gathered with family, friends and park visitors in the square. Fire Fighters’ Association of Missouri was the lead organization in the ceremonies which would follow. The gathered crowd was entertained by the outstanding Pinto Pride Marching Band from California, Missouri. Brad Thomas, CEO of Silver Dollar City and Lisa Rau, Director of Public Relations joined representatives of FFAM for the beginning of the festivities. Chief Kenny Hoover, President of FFAM led the invocation and other noted persons were introduced.
Following the brief ceremony at the square, the parade to Fireman’s Landing began. A bagpiper, drummers and color guard led the parade followed by the California Pinto Pride Marching Band. Next came a vintage fire truck from the Branson Fire Department with noted dignitaries riding atop the vehicle. The fire truck was followed by Mr. and Mrs. Jack Herschend and Mr. and Mrs. Peter Herschend, owners of Silver Dollar City. Over 80 firefighters representing fire departments from all over Missouri made up the “sea of blue” to complete the parade participants.
Once in Fireman’s Landing, thousands of friends, family and park visitors took their places as the fireman’s pledge was given, remarks by Chief Smoky Dyer, Chief Stittleburg, the President of NVFC, and IAFC Southwestern Division Chief Richard Boudreax. Each of the speakers emphasized the work of firefighters, particularly volunteers. It was noted that approximately 77% of all firefighters are volunteers.
After the ceremonies, Fireman’s Landing was declared “in service” for the children and parents in attendance.
Special thanks to Brad Thomas, CEO; Lisa Rau, Martha Bohner from the publicity department and the Herschend families, owners of Silver Dollar City. A big word of thanks to Charlie Neubert, 2nd Vice President of FFAM for all his hard work in helping put the event together. Also, thank to the many firefighters who participated in a special day for Silver Dollar City and the Fire Fighters’ Association of Missouri.