Biloxi Firefighters Continue Fun Community Tradition - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

09/20/03

Biloxi Firefighters Continue Fun Community Tradition

Dozens of firefighters from throughout the coast paraded in downtown Biloxi, upholding a more than 60 year legacy known as the Biloxi Firefighter's Parade.

"For years, the fireman's parade has been an icon here in Biloxi, and we're excited to start bringing it back. I'd like to say we've injected a lot of energy into the parade and as the years progress, we'll make it a lot bigger, hopefully to the way it was in the forties and fifties," said battalion chief Joe Boney.

One element of the parade from the fifties was the Miss Flame competition. It was brought back this year.

"We had parades every year, and we wanted something to have something added into it to make it more for the people. And sure enough, it was a great success," said parade captain Guy B. Roberts.

The competition originated in 1955 to raise a little extra money for the fire department.

"Back then it was a penny a vote, and we had jars out all over the place. My mother had my picture plastered all over every business in Biloxi just about. And she went out to the seafood factories and you know got donations and everything. She raised a little over four thousand dollars for them that year and that's how I got to be queen," said Miss Flame 1955 Bertha Ann DiStefano.

That's the same tradition which earned 12- year-old Alexandra Hunter the title of Miss Flame 2003.

"All I have to do is just throw things to everyone and wave," said Hunter.

And the crowd seemed to be pleased with that.

Old and new queens, as well as old and new firefighters threw everything you can imagine.

"Lots of candy, and Friskiest, huggers, cups, hats, beads," said six year old Garrett Gore.

"Tootsie rolls, candy, and lots of Friskiest," said five year old Kelsey Picolo.

Firefighters coming to the rescue yet again, only this time bringing fun and laughter to the community.

Eleven-year-old Jesse Arbogast served as the parade's grand marshall.

A little over two years ago, Arbogast was attacked by a shark at Langdon Beach in Florida.

Family members say he is going to school and enjoying life to the fullest.

By Karla Redditte

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