A North Bergen firetruck went out of commission, was renovated, and was given to the Guardians of the Ribbon, an awareness organization for women with cancer. It took its first drive in the Winterfest parade last Thursday.
Marianne Ecanosti, the North Bergen Recreation dance teacher, normally marches with her students, but this year was special for her with the pink firetruck featured in the parade.
“It’s fun to perform, but they know they are doing it for a good cause,” she said.
The 17th annual WinterFest was a festival for North Bergen residents that gets bigger each year. Mayor Nicholas Sacco said that this year, they extended it for a few blocks and were able to add more “activity-type rides” including a bull ride and toilet bowl races.
“It’s great. It’s just fun to be out.” – Darren Klein
“The lines were shorter and things were spread out,” he said. “People were able to get on rides quickly.”
Past events have seen as many as an estimated 10,000 visitors.
Ecanosti, co-president of the North Jersey Chapter of Guardians of the Ribbon, said that she and Keith Stewart were “enlisted” to get involved with the organization by friend and breast cancer survivor Daria Lojik. The chapter they created is headquartered out of Wayne, NJ, where they all live.
This truck, along with many others, will be a part of the group’s Pink Heals Tour, a national awareness campaign.
The organization is composed of firefighters, police officers, EMS workers, and town officials. Arizona Firefighter Dave Graybill started it as a way to inspire men to get involved, and while the trucks are pink, they are for the women’s fight against all cancers. Ecanosti said that Graybill changed the ribbon that represents the group to lavender to represent this.
Ecanosti said that the former municipal firetruck was found by Dan Peschetti, the shop supervisor of North Bergen’s Repair and Transit Department. He, his brother Steven, and the North Bergen Department of Works helped take it apart, strip it, and paint it pink before donating it to the Guardians of the Ribbon. Steven drove the truck in the parade.
The truck was named Gemma, after the Peschetti’s mother, who died of lung cancer.
This truck will go on to visit fundraisers, where breast cancer survivors, or those who have lost someone, may sign it, said Ecanosti. The group affords expensive maintenance and fuel through the sale of their t-shirts, but 100 percent of the money raised at the truck fundraisers goes directly to cancer patients and their families, she said.
Sacco said that it was “certainly a worthy cause.”
Meanwhile, the kids at the festival had less weighty issues on their minds.
“Another balloon!” exclaimed Joey, Darren Klein’s daughter.
“It’s great. It’s just fun to be out,” said Klein.
Alina Decasteja said that she learned about the festival from Commissioner Allen Pascual.
“He said it was a lot of fun for the kids, so here we are,” Decasteja said, and agreed, despite the cold weather.
Tricia Tirella may be reached at TriciaT@hudsonreporter.com.