NEW BREMEN — When runners took off for the Firemen’s Picnic Memorial 5K Saturday morning, they left with an extra bit of motivation.
“One thing that was different this year was we did a shadow run during our 5K,” New Bremen/German Township Firefighter Nate Neikamp said.
Tony Utz, of the 37th infantry brigade based at Camp Mike Spann, Afghanistan, and a firefighter for the New Bremen/German Township Fire Department, ran a 5K Saturday morning in Afghanistan.
“We have a guy in Afghanistan right now that did the 5K today (Saturday),” Neikamp said. “Because of the time difference, he was able to do the run and send us pictures before we ran.”
Two runners also took a heavy load with them on the run.
“We also had two gentlemen run this in their full gear in memory of our fallen fireman,” Neikamp said of the Memorial 5K tradition.
He noted the runs drew a good crowd.
“We had a good turnout for the 5K and fun run,” he said.
Following the morning run, the 91st annual Firemen’s picnic at Crown Pavilion in New Bremen featured the return of the junior water ball tournament, an adult whiffle ball tournament and the high school lift-a-thon. Games of chance, pony rides, inflatable rides and a corn hole tournament also dotted the lineup of events.
Attendees of the Firemen’s Picnic enjoyed a variety of rock music performed by area youth bands in a showcase, new to this year’s picnic, before Chez-Cheese took the stage at 8 p.m.
Tim Kuenning and his family returned to the Firemen’s Picnic for woodcarving, which they worked on throughout the day. The carvings were auctioned off later Saturday evening.
“Special thanks to Tim Kuenning and family for the woodcarvings,” New Bremen/German Township Fire Chief Bob Kuck said. “They donate all their time and we get all the money.”
Kuck also thanked the community for its continued support of the Firemen’s Picnic, the largest fundraiser of the year for the New Bremen/German Township Fire Department.
“A big thanks to the community for coming out and supporting us and all those that donated supplies to us,” Kuck said.