A hot time under the Arch (Sept. 6)

September 4, 2008

There are all sorts of plans floating around for making better use of the space under the Arch, but I favor the most simple one:  Put on more events there.  Forget huge construction projects to close the (admittedly annoying) interstate through downtown, or schemes to wrest acreage away from the National Park Service for a museum.  This Saturday (Sept. 6) offers a good example, The Great Fire Engine Rally. A tradition in St. Louis since 1983, the rally is an extravaganza with every kind of of fire-related “apparatus” (their term) you can imagine.

I admit I’d never even heard of this event until earlier in the summer, when organizers in the St. Louis Fire Department announced it was moving from its traditional date and site. Another new feature this year is a skill-based FireFighters Challenge that sounds like it mimics an actual fire situation. Four-person engine companies can sign up to show their stuff in that at 11 a.m., an hour after the parade of apparatuses (is that the right plural?) and an hour before the demonstrations begin. Word is that one of the demos is a water rescue on the river — see, the Arch grounds have some real perks! There’s also a flea market for fire-related memorabilia and a kids’ activity area. The parade route starts at First Street and Chouteau Ave. and goes north, then loops back to foot of the Arch. Naturally, after the parade many of the vehicles will be open for inspection and some for climbing aboard.

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