Getting them in the door
By Kana Coonce
CASCO – Twenty-three years ago, firefighters at the Casco Fire Department realized that their community didn’t know where the station was located.
So they came up with an idea.
The Casco Fire Department’s annual milk bottle tournament is a competitive event designed to get community members into the fire department.
Participants sign up in teams of five.
Each team member gets three tries to knock down a tower of milk bottles with a ball.
For each bottle that gets knocked down, the team gets one point out of a total of 25.
Whichever team scores the highest continues on in the brackets until one team reigns supreme.
Their prize? A 100% cash payout.
“It’s a way for the community to come out and have a good time and have drinks and food and laugh and be on their way,” said former Assistant Chief Troy Alsteen, who has worked for the department for 26 years and who is the last of the original group of men who dreamt up the milk bottle tournament.
The cookout and raffle portions of the event serve as one of several fundraisers the department holds throughout the year, with all proceeds — aside from payouts for 50/50 raffles — going toward the department.
As an all-volunteer fire station — meaning that no firefighter is compensated for time dedicated to the job — the Casco Fire Department relies on donations to train and equip its volunteers.
The department’s website estimates that between providing the required 60 hours of schooling, firefighters’ pagers and gear, bringing on a new volunteer costs the department about $2500.
Currently, the department hosts 26 firefighters, but Alsteen said that there’s a waitlist for people who wish to join that the department can’t afford to take on yet.
“Whatever people can help out with, that’s great,” he said, stressing that while the department will be raising funds, the event’s goal is to show people a good time and let the community see the fire station.
Alsteen also noted that while it would be difficult for the fire department to continue operations without the help it gets from its community, and “the support is just tremendous.”
The Casco Fire Department milk bottle tournament, cookout and raffle will take place on Saturday, Oct. 7.
Food — including booyah, trippe, burgers, brats, hot dogs, beer and soda — will be served from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., while the milk bottle tournament will begin at 1 p.m.
To enter a team, call or text (920) 621-2371.