Newer parade goers will enjoy getting acquainted with the old driverless red fire engine, too.
The inspiration for the “Chitlin Switch” fire engine came from Cranfill Cox, Jr. and Halton Hole. Hole engineered it with help from Floyd Drennan. Hole and Drennan were partners in the garage that is now owned by Gary Drennan on Titus St.
According to Bill Starnes, who with the help of several others is restoring “Chitlin’ Switch,” the old fire engine was probably driven by Hole in the early parades, and it was “clowned” by Cox.
Chitlin’ Switch is made of a 1929 Model A Ford with a Model T engine.
There is evidence that the details of accessories changed over the years, but the general appearance was maintained, Starnes said.
After Hole’s death in the 1950s, maintenance of the Chitlin’ Switch passed on to Drennan and his new partner, Bobby Whiteside.
Drennan later became a county commissioner and the responsibility of maintaining the engine went to Whiteside and his new partner, Alton Steelman.
Whiteside drove the vehicle for many years, then that responsibility finished with Steelman in 1978.
Chitlin’ Switch made its first appearance in 1938, and missed being in the parades only the two years that it was cancelled during World War II, and a few times in the 1960s and 1970s.