Firemen’s Dance and Drill is Saturday

This photo shows members of the drill team in 1964. They are (front row, left to right) Cy Hennes, Richard Jelinek, John Flicek, Richard Vanasek, John Simon Sr., John Simon Jr., Wenceslaus Kratochvil; (back row) Alfred Kohout, Francis Bates, Robert Mach, Joseph Soukup, David Bilek, George Nickolay, Robert Bartyzal, Clarence Krava, William Kajer, Myles Jelinek, 1st Assistant - Raymond Schoenecker and Fire Chief - Edward Meskan. Submitted by Bill and Joyce Kajer.

This year marks the 129th Annual New Prague Firemen’s Dance and Drill, which will take place at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 22, at the Park Ballroom, 300 Lexington Ave. S., in New Prague.

Drew Kolac is in his second year as the drillmaster for the precision march that will be performed by the 16 members of the department. The drill will be held at approximately 8:45 p.m. Kolac and his crew have been working hard at mastering the routine, even adding a few new steps to this year’s drill. Earlier this week, Kolac and his men were at the Park Ballroom rehearsing, with the former Marine stopping the drill several times to demonstrate the proper footwork required for the drill.

The New Prague Fire Department is one of the few in the country that still performs the precision drill with regularity. Such drills were once common among fire departments, but over the years many have dropped the tradition.

The New Prague Fire Department has been performing drills since 1908, when they drilled at the State Firemen’s Convention. This year marks the 109th anniversary of the drill team. New members of the drill team this year are Dan Wagner and Andrew Charnstrom.

During the drill, four retiring members of the New Prague Fire Department will be honored. They are assistant chiefs Tom Soukup and Tom Musil and firefighters Shawn Anderson and Doug Pomije. Anderson and Pomije will perform with the drill team for the final time.

The group will perform the drill before a packed house that includes friends, family and community members. Special guests include retired firefighters, former fire chiefs, city officials and firefighters from neighboring communities.

Music for this year’s dance will be by the band Wreckless.