Ever since they were able to point, my twins have been fascinated by the sight and sound of a fire truck. Each sighting would immediately result in a moment of complete silence, fully dilated eyes, and mouths agape as they sat mesmerized, watching intently as the fire trucks raced by to their destination – and then an outbreak of uncontrolled excitement and shouting “fire truck”, or something vaguely resembling those words.
As my twins – one boy, and one girl – grew, they began to explore different interests, but their shared fascination with the fire truck continued. No longer satisfied with just the occasional sighting on the street, we had to find the local fire station to visit. As time permitted, we would visit the local fire station to see the trucks and firemen (and women!) who loved to show off their trucks to the kids.
Unfortunately, many of our trips ended disappointingly when either the truck was not there, or they had to leave to go on a call. Even the planned visit by the local fire department to the school had to be cancelled at the last minute because the fire department had to attend to an emergency – as we expect them to do. Since early 2020, our visits to the local station have been met with closed doors because of the COVID outbreak.
As their 5th birthday party approached, I coaxed them for ideas on what, and who they wanted at their party. The boy wanted cowboys; the girl wanted mermaids. One wanted their entire class to come, one wanted the entire family – including the older cousins. Well, this was going nowhere quickly. But true to form, they both screamed “FIRE TRUCK!” in my ear as a fire truck shot past us on the way to the store. Now I had my party idea!
Now on a mission, I called the local fire department to see if they could please come to our party: “No, we are unable to come to parties. Sorry.” was the response. I asked my brother-in-law who was a volunteer fire-fighter: “We do drive-by visits only, but that is only if we are not on a run, and we cannot guarantee that we can come” was his reply. I asked if they had a smaller truck, or maybe a visit with just a few firemen with their jackets and hats only to be told: “No, we cannot take our gear out of the station.” Darn, I was nixed again!
Not one to give up, I moved ahead with the fire-truck themed party – fire truck or no…
Birthday day arrived. Guests were arriving. Kids were running around screaming with joy. Fire truck theme was going great! We set up fire activities: garden hoses, plastic hydrants, cones, fire hats – we had it all. The twins were elated; the classmates and cousins were having the time of their lives!
It is pure joy watching the imagination of the kids transport themselves into the world of make believe and to watch them attack the “fires” we had set up. The laughter reached a fever pitch and the smiles on the twin’s faces could not have been more magical. But then…
A blast of a horn. The whirr of a siren. Faint and distant but growing in intensity.
All the kids stopped, became quite in unison, turned, and looked in the direction of the noise.
It grew louder in intensity and was coming directly at us. Soon we saw the lights as a fire truck rounded the corner and headed our way.
Excited to catch a good view, all the kids ran quickly and lined up along the curb (covering their ears from the horns) to catch a glance as the fire truck raced by. But as it approached it didn’t just race by. Instead, it slowed, pulled alongside the curb, and then stopped right in front of our house!
Stunned into silence, the twins didn’t know what to do when the door to the fire truck opened and the firemen jumped out and shouted “We heard there was a party!” and proceeded to usher the kids into and onto the truck. All the kids – big and small – had a chance to get up into the cab of the truck, sound the horns and sirens, and to see the big fire truck up close.
For over an hour, the children had a great time participating in different activities led by the crew. They got to put on real fire gear, participate in “bucket-brigade” races, learn about firefighting, and get to play in lots and lots of water. What surprised us the most was how the crew helped with one of the older autistic children and were kind enough to accommodate their needs.
After getting a chance to run through the water from the large hose, the children were gathered for a great birthday photo, and the twins even received a nice gift from the fire department.
How did I accomplish this marvel? Well, after striking out with the local fire departments I was sharing my frustration in a Facebook group when one of the other parents referred me to the Fantastic Fire Department. I explored their website and discovered the Fantastic Fire Department is a fire truck adventure party company that specializes in children’s parties. They have a beautiful, authentic fire truck that has been reconfigured to be kid-friendly and safe. Their party packages are designed to provide fun-filled activities for the children and not just a “here’s a fire truck” type visit.
When I called, the staff was friendly and accessible; they answered every question I had; and assured me that they would be there on-time and for the full duration. True to their word, on the day of the party they texted me in real-time as they were on the way and the kids were unaware of what was coming. They had it timed to-the-minute!
We were thrilled to have the Fantastic Fire Department come to the party and have all the kids – again, big and small – be surprised and shocked by the chance to have their very own truck for the entire time. In particular, the twins were made feel the most special by being called by their names and recognized as it being their special day.
The Fantastic Fire Department is Charlotte’s premier fire truck adventure company for children. They service the entire Metro-Charlotte area – from Lake Norman to Lake Wylie – with year-round fire truck adventure options for kids. They are fully licensed and insured, with a highly trained staff that aim to make your child’s birthday the most special ever!