When the members of Firefighter John J. Redmond Ancient Order of Hibernians division marched past the reviewing stand in the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day parade, they were missing their most important publicity vehicle: a well-worn 1975 Seagrave pumper truck called “Big Green.”
“It didn’t make the parade because it was sidelined by some last-minute issues,” says the division’s publicity chairman Jeff Jackson. Among other issues, the power steering pump failed. If you’re going to maneuver a truck weighing several tons—a truck without water can tip the scales at 12, 13 or more—you better have power steering.
Big Green, stored away in an old firehouse in Lester, Delaware County, has been sidelined for a couple of years by a host of other problems, some of them mechanical and more than a few cosmetic. A T-shirt campaign last year helped the division raise enough money to replace some vital components, including a new starter, new batteries and new filters.
In hopes of getting the truck parade-ready, members of the division had hoped to continue working on it through the winter. But with the kind of winter we had, those hoped were dashed.
“We haven’t been able to do anything with the truck,” Jackson says. “It was a pretty harsh winter. We kept getting snow. In order to work on it properly, if it’s running, we need it to be outside.”
Adding insult to injury: “There was some damage to the roof of the firehouse because of the weather. Some debris fell on the truck. There was some cosmetic damage.”
And this, to a truck already in need of a facelift.
Now, the division is hoping for a bit of financial help to get the truck into running order. They plan to get it at a big beef and beer bash at their division hall at 415 North 5th Street in Philly on May 30. Headlining the event, entitled “The Resurrection of Big Green,” is Jamison, acclaimed as the best Irish rock band in America. Opening is a five-piece cover band called Rita’s Fog, featuring classic rock and R & B.
It might seem a little early to be plugging an event scheduled for the end of May, but the division is banking on a big turnout, and they’re hoping the truck benefit will start to gain traction—so to speak—right from the start.
The division has big plans for the old pumper, and a big bash seems like a good way to get there.
“We want to get it up and running, to make it roadworthy,” Jackson says. “Depending on how things go, hopefully we can complete our project, maybe put benches in the back and rig it out for parties.”
Jackson says the big party is attracting a lot of early interest. “We’ve got Jamison, and they’re a top-notch draw.”
So for now, Jackson says, the job is to get the word out: “by e-mail, Facebook, smoke signals—any way possible.”
Want to party for Big Green? Buy your tickets here.