Annual Karl Kenyon Smoky Bear parade returns to Westerly on July 20

Annual Karl Kenyon Smoky Bear parade returns to Westerly on July 20

The Westerly Sun

WESTERLY — The annual Karl Kenyon Smokey Bear parade returns to the shoreline on July 20 and with more volunteer departments set to take part than ever before, the Dunn’s Corners Fire Department is prepared to set attendance records for a second straight year.

The annual parade has grown considerably since its inception, said Lt. Jeff Thomas, training officer for the Dunn’s Corners Fire Department and publicity chairman for the event. And he expects that a social media campaign paired with direct invitations to a wider number of area volunteer departments is likely to increase turnout again this year.

A long-standing tradition hosted by the Dunn’s Corners Fire Department on the third Thursday of July each year, the parade was named for former Fire Chief Karl Kenyon following his death in 2010.

“This year, we made a decision to market the event differently and have sent direct invites to area departments, as well as promoting the event more thoroughly through social media,” Thomas said. “The response has been fantastic and we are expecting the largest turnout we’ve ever had.”

Thomas said the annual event serves multiple purposes for the department. The parade gives the public an opportunity to meet volunteer firefighters and medical personnel in a relaxed, non-emergency environment, lets firefighters show the taxpayers what their money is paying for and gives the department an opportunity to excite kids about fire safety.

More importantly, he said, the event is a chance for members of the department to build trust with the public, which is important for an agency that often meets individuals during the worst or scariest moments of their lives.

The 2017 parade, which includes a procession of more than 50 emergency vehicles, will kick off at the station on Langworthy Road beginning at 5 p.m. before progressing to four different stops: the Charlestown Beach parking lot at approximately 5:45 p.m.; in Weekapaug at Knowles and Weekapaug roads at approximately 6:30 p.m.; the Misquamicut Fire Department on Crandall Avenue at approximately 7:15 p.m.; and Bay Street in Watch Hill at approximately 7:30 p.m.

“This is a chance to have a little fun and just celebrate summer as a community,” Thomas said. “We are excited to see what this year’s event will bring.”

For more information on the parade, visit the Karl Kenyon Smokey Bear Parade Facebook page at, or the Dunn’s Corners Fire Department website at


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