Detroit Firemen’s Field Day – A Long Standing Tradition

Detroit Firemen’s Field Day holds a special place in the hearts of those who grew up the child of a Detroit Firefighter. Every year Dad would the pack family and as many neighborhood kids as he could fit in the car to go to Field Day. One, now grown, firemen’s kid wrote “To me, Field Day was the same portent of fall that the State Fair is. It made me feel so proud!”

The First Detroit Firemen’s Field Day

The first Detroit Firemen’s Field Day was held at Navin Field (at Michigan & Trumbull) in 1922. The tradition has continued every year since, with the exception of 1933. It has been held in a variety of locations including: Briggs Stadium, University of Detroit, Tiger’s Stadium, Hart Plaza, Ford Field, and is currently held at Historic Fort Wayne.

Apparatus Parade from the 1974 Field Day held at Tiger's Stadium

Apparatus Parade from the 1974 Field Day held at Tiger’s Stadium

Those who attended Field Day would be treated to games, clowns, the Fire Department Band, exciting acts relating to firefighter skills, fire apparatus displays, dignitaries would attend, for many years there would be a raffle of 25 new cars (now replaced with a 50/50 raffle) and in years gone by the day would end with a fireworks display.

Detroit Fire Clown Team’s ties to Field Day

The Detroit Fire Clown team has it’s roots in Field Day. The Clown Team was officially formed in 1947 by Firefighter Larry Scarpace with seven firefighters to perform for the annual Field Day. Prior to that, clowns had been a part of Field Day, but not as an official team. The Clown Team continue to be a highlights of today’s Field Day activities.

Field Day 1938.  The gentlman in the stands is William H. Chapman, who was at that time the oldest living Detroit Fireman.

Field Day 1938. The gentlman in the stands is William H. Chapman who at that time was the oldest living Detroit Fireman.

Another long standing tradition, still continued with today’s Field Days, are exciting acts designed to spotlight firefighting skills. Some past acts featured mock rescues, life net jumps, ladder sliding, and more recently Spider Man has arrived by sliding down a rope web from the top of a ladder truck.

Detroit Firemen's Field Day 1979

Detroit Firemen’s Field Day 1979


Detroit Firemen's Field Day 1981

Detroit Firemen’s Field Day 1981


At one point the premier event of Field Day for the adults was a raffle of 25 brand new cars.

1948 field day raffle

Ticket were sold for 50 cents each and profits from the drawing was the principal fundraiser for the Detroit Firemen’s Fund Association in their support of Firefighters’ widows and orphaned children.

1950 field day ticket1950 field day ticket back

Today the drawing has been replaced by a 50/50 drawing, still supporting the Firemen’s Fund Association. Last year’s Grand Prize was over $8,000, with 4 additional $500 consolation prizes. Tickets for the 50/50 drawing sell for $5.00 each.

Read more about Field Day Raffles in: Detroit Firemen’s Field Day Tickets – A Historical Perspective – 1922 to Pre World War II

Detroit Firemen’s Field Day 2014

The 2014 Detroit Firemen’s Field Day will be held August 11th, from 11am – 4pm at Historic Fort Wayne.  There is a $5.00 parking fee that goes to the restoration of the Fort. The public is welcomed! See the flyer below for all the details.

Detoroit Firemen's field day 2014 flyer

Hope to see you at Field Day!




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