Firefighters get 50% off admission at tourist attraction's 'Fire & Ice Celebration'

Firefighters will receive half-price admission to Old Sturbridge Village (OSV) on Saturday, July 20 for the museum's annual vintage fireman's muster, "Fire & Ice Day."

Antique fire trucks, including early hand-pumpers and a rare 1921 Stutz firetruck, will parade around the Village Common and will be on display throughout the day at the Sturbridge, Mass. tourist destination.

Visitors can join in bucket brigades and pumping contests, and watch old-fashioned ice cream-making using 19th century recipes. They can also taste entries in the third annual Best Chili in History Contest and vote for the winner.

Firefighting improvements

Antique “hand tubs" were pulled by firefighters rather than horses, and were operated by pumping the long handles on each side, drawing water from the machine’s tub and spraying it onto the fire.

First developed in the 1700s, these hand tubs were a huge improvement over the bucket brigade method of firefighting and were used for nearly 100 years.

It took many volunteers to pump the wooden side handles, which were called "brakes." The phrase "take a brake" comes from the call for fresh volunteers to take a turn pumping in order to give tired firefighters a rest (or, to "take a brake").

Chili contest and ice-cream making

The OSV’s fourth annual Best Chili in History Contest will enable visitors to sample the entries from local restaurants and vote for the winner. Entrants include the Publick House, B.T.'s Smokehouse, Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center, Veritas, and OSV’s own Bullard Tavern.

Junior Fire Explorers from several towns will compete in pumping contests and bucket brigades on Fire & Ice Day. These groups of young people volunteer with their towns’ fire departments to learn firefighting skills.

OSV historians will demonstrate both 18th- and 19th-century ice cream making techniques during the day as well as highlight ice cream's rich history.

About Old Sturbridge Village

OSV celebrates New England life in the 1830s and is one of the largest living history museums in the country. The museum is open daily 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Admission is $24; seniors $22; children 3-17, $8; and children 2 and younger, free. Parking is free as is a return visit within 10 days.

For information, call 800-SEE-1830 or visit To watch a video on OSV Fire & Ice Celebration, click here: