Dive into the exciting and diverse world of classic and collector vehicles, and you'll find loyal fans for every conceivable mode of vintage transportation. You may even be surprised to find there's a die-hard following for emergency vehicles.
A great spot for catching a multitude of restored police cars and fire trucks is the 2012 Chicagoland Emergency Vehicle Show. Held in North Aurora over a period of three days, the annual event and parade is now in its 15th year.
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The show, held last weekend, gathers all kinds of active and retired police, fire and rescue vehicles, allowing spectators a unique opportunity to see more than 200 of these rolling work horses. Faithful participants in the show come as far away as Pensacola, Fla.; Smyrna, Ga.; and Pennsylvania.
Dave Weaver serves as the event organizer and has overseen the event for the past 11 years. "The show started in a little basketball court with several police cars and one fire truck," he said.
Those humble beginnings have grown drastically. The event is the Midwest's largest public emergency show and includes much more than mere static displays; participants can put their driving abilities to the test in the form of an E.V.O.C. (Emergency Vehicle Obstacle Course).
This closed road loop is all about going fast and avoiding cones. It's open to owners of both the classic and modern vehicles who attend.
"Its something unique: anyone can take their car and go park and sit around. We wanted enthusiasts to be able to do something with their vehicle," Weaver said.
In addition to classic service vehicles, surrounding police and fire departments participate and bring out samples of their current high-tech fleets and even perform mock tactical operations. For the past 11 years, members of the Kane County Sheriff's Office SWAT team has conducted demonstrations and sample drills.
"It's something special that most people would never see, outside of a highly unsafe and volatile environment," Weaver said.
Another dangerous situation controlled and made accessible to audiences is the simulated vehicle extrication, put on by the North Aurora Fire Department. Using the high-powered Jaws of Life and other lifesaving tools, firemen showed how to quickly and safely retrieve occupants from a wrecked car. Even the Lifestar medevac helicopter landed in a field nearby, showing how injured personal could quickly be airlifted to nearby medical facilities.
A sobering reminder of the sacrifice our emergency rescue crews make on a daily basis could be seen in Rescue 5, a memorial to the New York City rescue squad crew who responded to the World Trade Center attack and gave their lives to save others.
Whatever your automotive tastes are, special shows like this are important to not only see some awesome machines but to also honor the brave men and women who use them on a daily basis keeping us safe and out of harm's way.
For more information, visit www.emergencyvehicleshow.com.