COPENHAGEN — Michelle Castor didn’t have an idea of what she was getting herself into, but that’s what comes with being the sister of a firefighter in the Copenhagen Volunteer Fire Department. Especially if you’re the sister of Matthew J. Petrie, this year’s organizer of the Fire Department’s annual field days.
Earlier this week, Ms. Castor agreed to help with putting together bed races, a new attraction for the annual two-day event, which celebrates is 62nd year this weekend. The idea, which came from a similar event hosted at the last Northern New York Fireman’s Association Convention in St. Lawrence County, was simple: invite people in the community to put together a bed capable of being raced up and down a short stretch of track.
Ms. Castor ended up going from behind the scenes to taking center stage Friday night, donning a pink bathrobe and being one team’s designated rider.
“I didn’t realize I was going to be in this until today when they were short someone,” she said, laughing.
Ms. Castor and her teammates dashed from the starting line to a bed awaiting them a few yards down the track. She then had to throw on the bathrobe and jump in the bed while her cohorts threw on firefighter turnout gear as they readied to push her bed to one end of the track and back.
The twist was that once at the other end, she had to switch places with one of her teammates. Jordan D. Brandt, Denmark, had that privilege. He, too, didn’t realize he’d be participating in the races until the last minute.
“I just did what I had to do for the team,” said Mr. Brandt, who said he was asked to join in by Ms. Castor’s brother.
That included donning the pink bathrobe over his clothes for bedtime authenticity.
“We don’t need to talk too much about that,” he said, smiling.
“That was kind of interesting,” said Ms. Castor, who noted the difference in their heights — Mr. Brandt being just over 6 feet tall, compared with her more petite 5-foot, 6-inch frame.
Sarah Woodruff of Copenhagen, who was on an opposing team, said she got roped into the event Friday night, too.
“I actually found out about 20 minutes ago that I was going to be in this,” she said, laughing.
“I was like, ‘Sure. Sounds good.’”
Like Ms. Castor, she started out being the bed rider, then switched places with one of her teammates, putting on the turnout gear.
“Let’s just say it wasn’t the right size,” she said. “(The gear) was down to my knees. The helmet was falling off. But it was a lot of fun.”
Though the number of spectators exceeded the number of people who participated in the bed races, Mr. Petrie said he hopes to bring the event back next year for the field days and have more entries.
“The first year is usually a trial year ... I think next year will be better,” he said. “I think people had a great time and enjoyed themselves.”
“I think next year will be a better turnout, seeing how fun it is,” Ms. Castor said.
The field days will continue today at the Fire Department, 9950 Route 12, starting at noon with firematics races. The races will feature teams from fire departments across the north country, including Great Bend, Clayton and Lake Placid. Also starting at noon will be a chicken barbecue hosted by the Fire Department’s ladies auxiliary.
A parade will begin at 7 p.m. on Maple Avenue, and a dance with live music by R-19 will start at 8 p.m. at the Fire Department.
Concessions, including hamburgers, hot dogs, clams and popcorn, will be sold throughout the day. Children’s games, including a dime pitch and soda ring toss, and a bounce house also will be on site during the day.
“There’s something for everyone,” Ms. Castor said.
Proceeds from the two-day event will help the Fire Department purchase equipment and support other department activities.