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County Firemen's Parade Canceled Due to Concerns of Possible $30,000 WHFC Middletown Embezzlement

Members doing Parade before preparations before cancellation - Social Media Post

ORANGE COUNTY – The Orange County Volunteer Firemen’s Association (OCVFA) has canceled the 108th annual convention parade scheduled for Saturday, September 23rd. Mid-Hudson News sources familiar with the annual event say that an investigation into missing convention funds is the likely reason for the last-minute cancellation. The parade was being hosted by the Washington Heights Fire Company (WHFC) in Middletown.

On Tuesday afternoon, the OCVFA issued a statement saying in part “It is with a heavy heart that we announce that the 108th Annual Convention of the Orange County Volunteer Firemen’s Association will no longer be supported by and hosted by the Washington Heights Fire Company.” Donors and sponsors of the convention are said to have made donation checks out to the Washington Heights Fire Company for the convention. Mid-Hudson News has received several calls indicating that at least $30,000 of convention funds earmarked to pay vendors has gone missing, leaving the WHFC unable to sponsor the event.

On the day of the announcement, Gordon Healy of the WHFC was listed as President of the OCVFA. Mid-Hudson News has learned that Healy resigned and he is no longer listed as president on the association’s website.

On Tuesday, the WHFC posted a message on social media, addressed to the community that hints toward missing funds. The post says “It is with a heavy heart that we are forced to cancel the parade to be held on Saturday, September 23, 2023. Unfortunately, for reasons that we cannot at this time share, we believe that it is in the best interests of everyone involved to do so. We will make all efforts to return any prepaid monies. We are extremely sorry for the inconvenience and understand that so many people have spent a great deal of time planning this event. Once we can provide a proper explanation to everyone, we will do so.”

The OCVFA statement also addressed the embezzlement speculation, saying “Please know that the OCVFA has not been involved in anything that may be rumored, and the Association will continue to operate under the direction of the Executive Board 1st Vice President Helena Grunwald.” The association calls the situation “an unprecedented time in the history of the OCVFA,” and indicated they are working with numerous past presidents for guidance.

Thirty-six fire departments, including one from Matamoras, PA and several from Sullivan County were scheduled to participate in the parade. Many of those departments have already spent money on marching bands and some have hinted at filing lawsuits to recoup the lost money.

Last week members of the WHFC were painting the firehouse in anticipation of the upcoming convention.

(Source: Mid-Hudson News)

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