Station hosts celebration, remembers former chief, training officer

Dennis Mansfield, Contributing Writer

Photo by Dennis Mansfield

Local residents, supporters and firefighters for Kalkaska Township Fire Department Station No. 7 gathered to remember firefighters who had fallen in the past year. Sadly, that included former Fire Chief Don Vyverberg (center), who passed away just two days before the annual Fallen Firefighter's Memorial Picnic on Saturday, Aug. 25, at the firehouse on Laurel Street. Above, Vyverberg gets his photo taken with current Fire Chief Derek Hogerheide (right) and Jim Rowell.

KALKASKA – Each year, Kalkaska Township Fire Department Station No. 7 opens its doors, not to rush to a fire or other emergency, but to celebrate its connection with the community.

That was again the case during the annual Fallen Firefighters Memorial Picnic on Saturday, Aug. 25, which provided fun, good food and helped raise funds for the department.

Despite heavy rains early in the morning, Mother Nature couldn’t dampen the spirits of those who attended. In fact, firefighter Shannon Allen said about 150 dinners featuring pulled-pork sandwiches were served.

“It was great,” Allen said of the turnout.

Better yet, the Fallen Firefighters Memorial 5K run set a new record for participation with 48 runners. That was nearly three times the number taking part in last year’s race.

“Las Vegas Tan & Salon co-sponsored with us for the 5K and that helped tremendously,” she added.

The picnic also featured bounce houses for kids and a friendly Firefighters Relay, which provided both competition and laughs.

But, there were also a few solemn moments, as the fire department, local officials and residents remembered the sacrifices made by those who serve, as well as honoring two Station No. 7 members who passed away since last year’s picnic.

That included former Fire Chief Donald “Don” Vyverberg, 75, who died on Aug. 23, just two days prior to the celebration. Vyverberg was a firefighter for 47 years, including 37 years as the leader of Station No. 7.

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