Festival held in honor of firefighter killed in crash - WNEM TV 5

Festival held in honor of firefighter killed in crash

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A celebration of first responders happened in one Mid-Michigan city on Friday.

It was the 79th annual Clio Firefighter's Homecoming. The festival was complete with a carnival, entertainment and monster truck rides.

"Well, we do it every year. It's how we make money for the corporation and all the money we make at some point goes back into the community," Battalion Chief Steven Gilkes said.

It was a joyous occasion mixed with some sorrow as the fire department and the town remembered the loss of one of their own.

Mike Wager, an eight year veteran with the department, died in a car accident less than a week ago. Many in the department are still grieving and Gilkes said this year's carnival isn't the same without him.

"He was just one of them guys that was just there no matter what. You turned around and he was there, 'What can I do? What can I do?' So we're going to miss him a lot," Gilkes said.

A memorial banner hung at the entrance of the carnival. Gilkes said the festival is held in Wager's honor this year.

"It'll hinder the fun, but on the kick side we're doing it in his honor and try to honor him and his family," Gilkes said.

In town, those who planned to participate in the festival's activities felt the weight of Wager's absence.

"Probably means a lot to the family. Proud to have their loved one honored in such a great way. It's such a great event for the community," said Matthew Krupp, resident.

Gilkes said the event is something his fellow firefighters look forward to all year. Even with the distraction of rides and cotton candy, Wager and his family will be on their minds all weekend.

"I think he lived for it. Him and his family. I mean, we all lived for this department. He will be sadly missed. It's terrible," Gilkes said.

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