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Volunteer firefighters will convene

A dinner today kicks off activities for the 103rd Southwestern Volunteer Firemen's Convention hosted through Saturday by the Lake Shore Volunteer Fire Company in Hamburg.

The association comprises fire companies from Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Erie counties. This year's president is Michael Gates of Lake Shore.

A highlight of the event will be the convention parade at 3 p.m. Saturday down Lake Shore Road (Route 5), followed by duck races on Berrick's Creek at 5 p.m. at the Lake Shore Fire Hall, Route 5 at Rogers Road.

Registration begins from 4 to 7 p.m. today at the Dival Exhibitor Tent and continues from 8 a.m. to noon and 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday and from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.

A slate of officers for 2012 will be presented in the first of two convention meetings at 9 a.m. Thursday in Brierwood Country Club, 5324 Rogers Road. Other events Thursday at the fire hall include a Mercy Flight demonstration at 3 p.m., a fire seminar at 4 p.m., EMS seminars at 6 and music at the beer tent from 7 to 11.

The second business session opens at 9 a.m. Friday with a memorial service honoring all members who have died during the past year. Election of officers will be followed by the annual awards and a business session.

A firefighter skills challenge will be held at noon Friday at the old fire hall, now Bible Fellowship Church, at 4821 Rogers Road.

The grotesque parade -- where firefighters dress as anything but themselves -- will step off at 7 p.m. Friday from Morgan Parkway, followed by a giant disco party at 7:30 at the beer tent.

There will be an antique fire muster at the fire hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

The convention grand parade will step off at 3 p.m. Saturday along Lake Shore Road. Parade awards will be presented at 7:30 p.m. at the fire hall.

Most events are open to the public.

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