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NOVFA parade celebrates 150th anniversary of organization created in Ada

Jim Tressel celebrates the fire service with Ada

For parade photos, see the Ada-Liberty Fire Dept Facebook page

By Paula Pyzik Scott

Amidst a busy schedule of events, the 150th Convention of the Northwest Ohio Volunteer Firemen’s Association (NOVFA) put on a parade down Ada’s Main St. on Saturday, June 15. Ada is the birthplace of the organization, making this an extra special celebration for the Village.


The parade was best witnessed at Depot Park where college football coach and university administrator Jim Tressel served as the parade marshal and emcee. Prior to the parade, Tressel visited with friends and fans, reminiscing about his childhood visits to Ada to see his grandparents, Lee and Eloise Tressel. 

“My mom and dad are both 1943 graduates of Ada High School, and so every Thanksgiving, every Christmas and one week every summer, we got to come here. And that was the highlight of our year. We couldn’t wait to come on the farm.”

From the conversations, it’s clear Tressel maintains many connections in the village. “We’ve had busy lives and we haven’t had the chance to come back this way as much as we like, and to have a chance on a special weekend like this… to see Ada bubbling and vibrant” was very special. He also noted in reference to Friday’s fire truck cruise, “(Fire Chief) Jay Epley didn’t tell me that we were supposed to bring ear plugs. But we had a blast.”

Tressel took to the stage and microphone to announce the parade alongside Epley, providing information on all of the participants.

At the intersection of Main and Buckeye, a supersized American flag was suspended from aerial fire apparatus from the Village of Bluffton and American Township. It framed an honor guard of firemen bearing the colors and axes who led the parade into the downtown. 

Dozens of fire vehicles representing some of the 208 member stations processed from the high school to War Memorial Park. This included several antique fire trucks and Ada’s first mechanical pumper from the 1860s. 

Among other parade units were a vehicle for Katelynn Metzger, the 2024 NOVFA Convention Queen, who represented the Ada-Liberty Twp. Fire Department. two NOVFA Auxiliary floats, Mayor David Retterer, The Liberty Center Marching Band and the Scarlet Strutters baton corps.

Chief Epley told the Icon that he appreciated how hard everyone worked and how well they worked together to create the convention. He noted that he had been among the youngest firefighters 50 years ago when the event was last held in Ada.

When asked why he has been a part of the Ada-Liberty Twp. Fire Department for so long, he noted that while working for Columbia Gas, he “gave to people.” When he was part of the National Guard, he did the same. “And in the fire service, I give to people. It’s just the way I am. I enjoy these guys, it keeps me young.”

Epley pointed to the great support shown by the Ada community for the fire department and funding to purchase fire apparatus. At the same time, he noted that fire safety awareness and education for children and adults is the first line of defense.

To learn more about the Ada-Liberty Twp. Fire Department, visit station at 525 N Main St, Ada, or call (419) 634-8070.