Sparky gets a new suit
December 14, 2016
Bill Motta (Left) and Tom Barry (Right) of the Foxboro Lions, and Deena Cummings and Dave Reid of the Foxboro Jaycees (Center) prepare the check to be donated to the Foxboro Fire Department for a new “Sparky the Fire Dog Costume.” The Jaycees, Lions and Foxboro Rotary collaborated on the fundraiser to purchase a new Sparky costume that is used to promote fire safety at schools and other public appearances.
David Reid, and Deena Cummings, on behalf of the Jaycees, Foxboro Lions and Foxboro Rotary, present a check for $2200.00 to Fire Chief Roger Hatfield and Firefighter Greg Gill. The Jaycees, Lions and Rotary worked together and held several fundraisers to contribute toward the purchase of a new “Sparky the Fire Dog” costume. The original costume is over 15 years old and worn and the new suit will help continue Sparky’s mission of reaching out to schools, to children and the community and promoting fire safety.
Sparky the Fire Dog gets a new life
By Bera Dunau, The Foxboro Reporter
Published: Thursday, December 22, 2016 8:55 AM EST
Sparky the Fire Dog is an icon that has inspired quite a bit of love in Foxboro over the years.
Sparky is an anthropomorphic Dalmatian that has been the mascot for the National Fire Protection Association Since 1951. Sparky is used to help educate children about fire safety and he currently has his own website, complete with video segments and games.
“Whenever Sparky shows up at an event, the kids love it,” said Foxboro Fire Chief Roger Hatfield.
The NFPA is a trade association that primarily provides fire protection codes and standards.
The Foxboro Fire Department has had its current Sparky costume for about 15 years. However, it appears that the well-worn, and well-loved, outfit is in need of retirement.
“We’ve cleaned it as best as we can,” said Hatfield. “It needs to be replaced.”
In order to facilitate this, Hatfield reached out to the Foxboro Jaycees, the Foxboro Lions Club and the Rotary Club of Foxboro and asked them to raise the money for a new costume to keep the mascot active.
“The Jaycees really went all out with our other service organizations,” said Hatfield.
Dave Reid served as the point person for the Jaycees for the fundraising effort. He said that Hatfield had approached the service organizations to do the fundraising because Hatfield was interested in the effort being a community affair.
Reid said that the Lions held an event at Showcase Live, while the Rotary asked its members for donations and the Jaycees solicited donations at concerts on the Common and other events the Jaycees sponsor.
“They were fantastic partners,” said Reid, on working with the other two organizations.
Reid said that he volunteered to work on the effort because he views the fire department and EMS as “unsung heroes.” He also wore the costume on McGinty Family fun day as part of the fundraising effort, walking around in it alongside his son. This gave him a firsthand experience with why it needs to be replaced.
“It smells,” he said. “It’s hot, it’s heavy.”
In total, the three organizations raised $2,200 dollars. A check for that amount was presented to the fire department at the Jaycee’s Dec. 14 meeting.
“This is another example of community organizations being able to provide a service at no cost to the town,” said Reid.
He said that all three organizations are suffering from not getting new members, and that efforts like this help to highlight the good that they do, as well as hint at how much more they could do if their membership increased.
Indeed, the amount of money raised means that Foxboro won’t just be getting a copy of the old suit.
“We’re actually going to enhance our old Sparky suit to a new one that has more animation to it,” said Hatfield.
He said that this will mean that the costume will be able to blink its eyes and, crucially, will have a microphone inside that will allow the person wearing it to speak to the children.
“Sparky will actually be able to talk to the kids now,” said Hatfield.
In the past a firefighter would accompany the beloved mascot to explain fire education. With a microphone in the new suit, however, the person operating it will be able to give these lessons.
“Sparky can give the actual fire message,” said Hatfield, who said that he thinks that this will help the department to better reach kids.
The new suit will also have an improved cooling fan, to prevent those in it from overheating.
While the suit has traditionally been worn by Fire Explorers, Hatfield said that this new development will mean that a mix of firefighters and Explorers will be using it.
As it is, Hatfield said that juvenile arson does not appear to be a major problem in Foxboro. He gave credit for this to Greg Gill, the department’s public education coordinator, who is in charge of the fire education that Sparky is a part of.
The selectmen will have to accept the donation at the Dec. 27 meeting in order for it to be used. Assuming this happens, Hatfield said that the suit will be ordered and will arrive in six to eight weeks.
As for what will happen to the old suit, Hatfield said that it will likely be washed one last time and kept around as a backup.
Remembering September 11
September 11, 2016
Foxboro honors 9/11 victims at candlelight vigil
The Sun Chronicle, 9/12/2016
Posted: Sunday, September 11, 2016 11:06 pm | Updated: 12:58 pm, Mon Sep 12, 2016.
Foxboro honors 9/11 victims at candlelight vigil BY KAYLA CANNE SUN CHRONICLE STAFF
Foxboro is no stranger to coming together in times of tragedy.
The town wrapped itself around resident Cindy McGinty when, in 2001, her husband Michael died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City.
And, in the years that followed, she received continuous support from neighbors and friends.
But now, 15 years after the 9/11 attacks, McGinty hopes the focus of that tragic day will lay in the good that followed – and wants to see the same unity and kindness continue in the day-to-day life of Foxboro.
“I often think the Town of Foxboro is the reason why I can stand in front of you today,” McGinty told a crowd of about 50 residents who gathered on the Foxboro Common for a 9/11 candlelight vigil Sunday evening.
“You all wrapped my family in a blanket of love. We came together united that day.”
McGinty encouraged residents to remember the positive things that came from 9/11, and to share those events – not the tragic ones – with their children.
“Make it a story about the good things that happened afterward,” she said. “About the love that loved me back on my feet.”
She reflected on the kindness of a neighbor, who, without asking, cut her grass for eight years following the attacks and asked residents to consider ways they could give back to their community.
“Whether it’s buying the coffee for the car behind you in line or taking out your neighbor’s trash – take on your own random acts of kindness,” she said. “Be a community and love each other.”
And that’s exactly what members of the Foxboro Jaycees hoped Sunday night’s vigil would provide: a chance to be a community.
The group held their first vigil in 2001 about a month after 9/11 when residents started asking for some sort of remembrance to honor the victims of the attacks.
Now, they host a similar memorial every five years on the 9/11 anniversary.
Sunday night started with a brief introduction by event co-chair Bob Gillis, followed by McGinty’s speech, the national anthem and finally a quiet remembrance as projected names of nearly 3,000 victims of the attacks scrolled by to music and candlelight.
“We leave it all up to the folks who come out,” Gillis said. “There’s no formal agenda or prayers or ceremony. This is just about giving them the opportunity to gather together as a community – a lot of people need that today.
“We always tell them, ‘Stay the whole hour or stay a few minutes – take as long as you need.'”
The ceremony was also streamed live by Foxboro Cable Access for residents who couldn’t make it to the event.
The night was a bit too windy for candles, but some kept trying, while others opted for flag-themed pinwheels to show their support instead.
Assistant Town Manager MaryBeth Bernard said the ceremony was her first – and she found the night to be about finding a way to be thankful for something in spite of all of the lives lost that day.
“It’s about being grateful for your community and your country. For public safety and the government officials and community members who stood together to rise above such a horrible thing like 9/11,” she said.
“I woke up this morning wanting to do something, and this has been the perfect remembrance.”
All pictures below — taken by, and copyright Mark Stockwell, Sun Chronicle