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Fireman’s Fair Provides 111 Years Of Fun 

Pictured from left right, sisters Aileen, Marianne, Margaret and Patricia Kissane have attended the Greenlawn Fireman’s Fair almost every year for the last 40 years.
Photos by Ross McTyre

You can hear the smile in Margaret Kissane’s voice as she recalls a time more than 30 years ago when the top prizes at the Greenlawn Fireman’s Fair were blankets and livestock.

The longest-running fireman’s fair in New York state, the Greenlawn Fireman’s Fair entered its 111th year Labor Day weekend when hundreds of residents and families came out to enjoy the four day of festivities. This year, top prizes met the 21st century and included a car and a flat screen TV.

For as long as she can remember, Kissane and her family have attended the fireman’s fair and witnessed the community tradition thrive first hand over the last three decades.

Kissane’s parents, Joseph and Emily, lived in Greenlawn for over 50 years and made sure their children got to enjoy the fun every single year.

Many aspects of the fair have been preserved, but Kissane remembers buying “chances” instead of “raffle tickets” at a rate of 50-cents per chance, and when children would flock with glee to game booths where they could play their chances to win a baby pig, a goat or a rabbit as a prize.

“My parents were smart enough to know not to take chances on the livestock,” Kissane said. “I think it was always fun… I think it has a lot to do with the parade. You see the same people year in and year out, from the firemen to the neighbors.”

Booths that sold meats, household items, candy, hardware and plants have remained mainstays at the Greenlawn fair. What was once a “plush” booth morphed into a toy booth, and a sports jersey booth replaced a former electronics booth, Kissane said.

As a child, Kissane said a highlight of the fair was always the rides, and as she got older came to enjoy the more “adult” attractions, like a hot dog and a beer.

However, the Kings Park resident said the fair still brings about a feeling of childish wistfulness, marking the summer’s end and the fall’s beginning.

“It was a tradition, and it always marked the end of summer and [the kids] are going to start school. I always wanted to stay later but you had to get home for school,” she said.

Kissane said she and her siblings have attended the fair every single year since childhood, only missing out on the fun when she had to leave the area for college.

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