HARVARD -- The competition will be heating up at the center of town this Sunday, when firefighters from nearby towns will come out to race each other as part of a tradition that's over 80 years old.
Fire departments from Bolton, Berlin, Boylston, West Boylston, Harvard, Sterling, Holden and Princeton will bring their old trucks to compete in the 88th Wachusett Valley Firefighters Muster.
The June 15 event features a number of timed races involving hoses, trucks, ladders and the firefighters themselves. The spectacle is free to the public and begins with a parade at noon at the town's common.
The towns usually take turns hosting the event each year, said Bill Berthoud of the Harvard Fire Department.
"It only comes around once every eight years and it's kind of a novel thing to witness," he said.
The races require participants to knock down obstacles with the old fire truck hoses as quickly as possible. The team with the lowest time wins that race, but the team with the lowest total combined time wins the entire muster.
Each race has its own twist.
In the Bed Race, everyone lies down on a cot, Berthoud said. When an alarm sounds, everyone must get dressed and get in the fire truck, travel a short distance, hop off the truck and knock down a target.
In the Tower Race, firefighters race the truck to an elevated platform, where one firefighter climbs up a ladder, aims the hose at a target and shoots from above.
"It's good fun, everybody has a good time with it," Berthoud said. "It's not to be missed."
Every department brings its own old truck, Berthoud said. Harvard's own vintage truck, Sherman, 1947 vintage, and will be competing.
Races start at 1 p.m. and the General Store will provide food.
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