Tag Archives: Fire Fighter Justin Watral

My Life as a Fireman: HHFD Annual ‘Santa Around Town” December 19th, 2021

I still can’t believe that Christmas came so quickly this year. It was almost like the blink of an eye. With the start of the Christmas holidays, there are many cherished Christmas events in Hasbrouck Heights that have become tradition.

Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ is always so beautifully decorated for the holidays (Heights Flower Shoppe)

Starting with the Christmas Parade the day after Thanksgiving, this annual event showcases our wonderful downtown in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ and dazzles us at the end of the parade with the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting and Caroling. It had been so cold that night that the crowds were more subdued than usual (remember COVID is still going on) but no less spirited.

The Neil Parrot Playhouse decorated for Christmas at the Hasbrouck Heights Circle

The Fire Department escorted Santa down the parade route to the Christmas tree and was greeted by the Hasbrouck Heights Community , who were ready for some Christmas cheer. When the switch turned on, we were dazzled by the lights of the trees and decorations that grace the Circle in Hasbrouck Heights.

The Christmas Tree at the Hasbrouck Heights Circle always dazzles at night

After the parade and carolling were over, it was back to the firehouse but not before the fire fighters got their own group shot at the Christmas tree.

The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at the Christmas Tree in 2021

By the end of the month, we were ready for our big community event, “Santa Around Town” where the fire department escorted Santa around the Hasbrouck Heights community to wish everyone Christmas cheer in a very difficult year.

We lucked out and the weather cooperated and it ended up being a sunny but cool day. Because of the COVID pandemic, we cut the number of stops and the crowds were a bit smaller but no less enthusiastic about seeing and talking to Santa.

Being socially distanced and wearing masks in some locations, residents of Hasbrouck Heights got to talk to Santa and give him their Christmas wishes. I have never seen so many families and especially children need a lot of Christmas cheer in these tough times and Santa really came through for families and even their pets, as many Christmas dogs greeted and licked Santa.

We toured all over town, greeting residents and every keeping as socially distanced and safe as we could as Santa greeted everyone who came and cheered up a community that really needed it.

Merry Christmas from the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department!

The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department’s Annual “Santa Around Town” 2021

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

My Life as a Fireman: The Holiday Parade in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ November 26th, 2021

It has been one busy year for me at work with online classes and live work and very little time for volunteer work. I was lucky that we sold out of Christmas trees for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Christmas Tree sale in a record 11 days! My last shift we sold the final tree and I was able to attend the fire department’s room cleaning that night. Needless to say, I have not been that active as a fire fighter this year due to work.

Still, I managed to finish everything and was able to assist the Rescue Truck as we set up the sound system and lights for the Annual Hasbrouck Heights Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting on November 26th, 2021. The parade takes place on the Boulevard in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ the day after Thanksgiving and we draw a nice crowd for the Parade and then the Tree Lighting. It was really cold that evening and we had about 150 residents for the tree lighting.

The Christmas Tree at the Circle is always a welcome site at the holidays

We participated in the parade with all the equipment following Santa down the Boulevard, handled the sound system and the lights for the ceremony and kept the town safe that evening. It was a wonderful to usher in the holiday season.

The Brothers of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at the 2021 Christmas Tree Lighting

Merry Christmas Everyone!

My Life as a Fireman: Memorial Day Weekend May 31st, 2021

Memorial Day this year was rather quiet due to the ongoing COVID Pandemic so the traditional parade was cancelled.

Hasbrouck Heights had a small but tasteful ceremony at the Veteran’s Memorial Park on Terrace Avenue. The Mayor and the council said some nice words about our veterans from town and the members of the VFW were present who felt up for the ceremony.

Hasbrouck Hts Fire (@Heightsfd) | Twitter

The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at the Firemen’s Memorial Park on the Boulevard

After the ceremony, we had a small ceremony at the Firemen’s Memorial at the Circle on the Boulevard. Again the service was short and tasteful as we honored our fallen brothers from the department.

The Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department saluting our fallen Brothers and Sisters

It was a nice afternoon to pay our respects for the people of our community that have done so much for us.

Happy Memorial Day!

Bunny Around Town

My Life as a Fireman: Riding the Rescue for the “Annual Easter Bunny Around Town” April 3rd, 2021.

The era of COVID has spawned innovation in running events at the firehouse. Hasbrouck Heights had to cancel their Annual Easter Egg Hunt this year like last year because they could not bring all those kids to the football field to run around. Even though we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel with COVID and this too will pass soon we have to stay safe.

For the second year, the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department held it’s “Annual Easter Bunny Around Town” drive by event for the families and especially for the kids in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ. This type of community outreach is what makes a good town better. About twenty five firefighters loaded up the two engines, the two ambulances and the rescue truck and donned their masks as we split the town east and west with the equipment covering every street in Hasbrouck Heights. Each team visited their side of town with two bunnies greeting all the residents.

Bunny Around Town

Happy Easter at the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department

We had a nice crowd of people waiting on their lawns, masks on, greeting us as our Easter Bunny waved at them. We rode behind the truck that was carrying our Easter representative, waving at residents as well. For a sunny afternoon in the beginning of April, the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department spread a little Easter cheer to a community that know that better times are ahead.

Happy Easter in 2021!

HHFD at Santa Around Town 2020

My life as a Fireman: Riding the Engine for the Annual “Santa Around Town” December 20th, 2020

In keeping with a long time tradition of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department and in the era of COVID, we decided to run our Annual “Santa Around Town”. This has been held every Sunday before Christmas for over twenty years. It is one of the biggest outreaches to the town of goodwill that the Department holds each year.

The event started much earlier than in previous years and we gathered for breakfast and set up at 9:00am and started the event at 10:00am. This was a much bigger ride that in previous rides as for years before when we stopped in about twenty locations all over town, handing out candy canes and Santa greeting people.

HHFD at Santa Around Town 2020
The members of the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department at “Santa Around Town”

Because of COVID, we decided to take Santa on a longer trip to every street in Hasbrouck Heights, up and down roads and avenues, greeting families from their doorways and front yards, watching excited children jump up and down. So many families greeted us on their front porches, at the front doors and windows. They were in their yards waving and cheering us. So many children were so happy to see Santa as were their parents. This really was the year that we all needed to believe in Santa.

We passed houses that were decorated to the extreme with residents trying to add normalcy into their lives and Christmas cheer to their families. It really was a pleasure to pass all this holiday excitement.

Christmas cheer from Hasbrouck Heights
The Circle in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ at Christmas

I know that a lot of people are struggling right now but if we brought a little Christmas cheer to them and their families than we accomplished our role as fire fighters. Our goal is to help and assist our communities and if spreading a little Christmas cheer is as important as putting out a house fire or saving a life (which we have done a lot lately) than we accomplished our goal.

This is why I love being a fireman.

Justin decorating the engine at "Santa Around Town"

Firefighter Justin Watrel decorating Engine One at the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department 2015

My life as a Fireman: The 10th Annual Engine One Barbecue at the Hasbrouck Heights Firehouse June 7, 2017

My time on the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department

We ran the barbecue for 11 years. Me baking up a storm for dessert for the barbecue in 2017.

Our engine company used to run the barbecue the first week of June every year. We had a lot of fun.

My life as a Fireman: Brother Justin Watral promotes novel, “Firehouse 101” at the NJBooks2017 on June 11, 2017

My time on the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department

I am still promoting my novel, “Firehouse 101” the story of Hotel Executive Alex Livingston, who moves from Honolulu to Brooklyn a year and a half after the 9/11 attacks and the people he meets along the way and how they change his life for the better.

It’s available on IUniverse.com and all online book sites:

https://www.iuniverse.com/BookStore/BookDetails/101408-FIREHOUSE-101

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/firehouse-101-justin-watral/1007586031

Author Justin Watral promoting his novel “Firehouse 101” at the Brooklyn Book Festival in 2011 ten years after the attacks of 9/11.

My life as a Fireman: The Memorial Day Parade with the Brothers of Engine One HHFD May 29th, 2017

My time on the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department

Getting ready for Inspection at the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department in 2017.

My life as a Fireman: From Pasta to Pancakes; when fire fighting tastes good!

My time on the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department

Blogger and Fire Fighter Justin Watrel at the Little Ferry Auxiliary Spaghetti Dinner.

This article promoted all the great meals provided by local first responders companies in Bergen County, NJ.

My life as a Fireman: The Engine One October Drill to Home 2 Home Suites by Hilton tour October 4th, 2017

My time on the Hasbrouck Heights Fire Department

Our Engine Company toured the Home to Home Suites in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ for a drill