A moment in history

By Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

A steady footfall of one step following another could be felt by some and heard by more on Saturday, April 14. The rhythmic steps were part of the New Prague Fire Department Precision Marching Drill team's performance at the Park Ballroom. It was just one part of the department's annual dance and drill, both more than a century old.

To put that in perspective, the dance started six years before Thomas Edison had the first public showing of his kinetoscope, a precursor to the movies, in 1894. The drill began in 1908, two years before President William Howard Taft began the tradition of U.S. presidents throwing out the first ball on opening day of the baseball season.

The big historical event that the world observed this weekend was the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. There were bronze plaques with the names of those lost unveiled. Moments of silence were held. A cruise ship that is following the same route of the Titanic stopped briefly for a ceremony at the spot where the Titanic sank.

History is filled with moments, some positive, some negative and for some the significance isn't an earth-shaking event. It's the continuation of a tradition.

The 12 years I've been attending and covering the Firemen's Dance and Drill is a small detail in its 124-year history. I've seen audiences of various sizes attend. One of the largest was in 2002. The country was still finding its way from the events of September 11 and people were finding comfort in traditions. The Park Ballroom was packed with people at that performance.

No matter what the size of the audience, people let the drill team know their appreciation. This past Saturday, there were moments of applause, even a few cheers. The drill team deserves that applause as they gather each year for a few weeks to learn not only how to march in time, but various formations.

Next year will be the 125th dance and the 105th performance of the drill team. What are your plans for April that year?

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