Tow Operators Keep on Truckin'
250 Vehicles Descend on Hampton
Beach For Two Days of Activities
By Susan Nolan
Hampton Union Friday, May 22, 2009
[The following article is courtesy of the The Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
[John Carden photo]
HAMPTON BEACH - More than 250 bright colored tow trucks flashed and honked their way up Ocean Boulevard in the rain last Sunday morning.
"Look at that one. Holy camoley," shouted 8-year-old Zachary Provencher of Hampton as a huge truck with orange and red flames painted on its side paraded past in the long line of flashy trucks with flashing lights.
The trucks were celebrating the 37th New Hampshire Towing Association's Tow and Trade Show and annual parade, a two-day event at Hampton Beach State Park.
Zachary pumped his fist up and down in the universal "honk, honk" sign, and the driver of the giant tow truck responded with a huge blast on his air horn in front of Blink's Fry Doe on the boulevard. "That's a serious honk," Zachary said solemnly. "Holy camoley."
Zach and his friends were among the handful of tow truck die-hards who stood out in the rain to get a look of the trucks on parade. It took a full 15 minutes of flashing and honking for the parade to pass by. It took an hour for the parade to drive down Ocean Boulevard, up High Street, south on Route 1, down Winnacunnet Road and back to the Hampton Beach State Park where the two-day event continued with a truck beauty contest and other festivities.
The parade was led by a Hampton Police cruiser driven by Officer Vitalijs Sorokins. The officer, a Russian immigrant turned U.S. citizen and Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he was proud to lead the parade in his adopted community.
"It was fun to do something important for the town," he said. Landon Harrigan of Hampton Falls, age 2½, gave up on holding his umbrella the moment the parade began. He appeared transfixed by the flashing lights and horns.
"We come every year because he loves trucks," said his mother, Erin. Three-year-old Ben Maguire of Dunbarton was jumping up and down on the sidewalk as the trucks went by his family's summer place on Winnacunnet Road."I love garbage trucks," said Ben, who sleeps with a truck book each night. "I want to drive a garbage truck when I grow up," he said.
And while it seemed like the event was simply festive, in fact, it's a working trade show in which tow truck operators exchange information and ideas, and learn about the latest safety measures, said Rene Fortin of Manchester, president of the NHTA.
"It takes a special breed of people to do this job," Fortin said.
Two truck operators go to calls in the middle of the night, in below zero weather and in the midst of every kind of bad weather, he said. "If you're in the towing business, you've got to have chains in your veins," the NHTA president said. "Once you get hooked in this business, you never give it up."
And the challenges can be great. Fortin said he once hauled a horse out of a well with his tow truck. Dave Lavoie of Dave's Garage said he hauled a whale off Hampton Beach.
On another occasion, Fortin hauled a concrete wall off a man and saved his life.
Annie Lavoie, of Hampton, whose husband, Mike, drives a tow truck for Dave's Garage of Hampton Beach, said she often accompanies her husband when he goes to a call.
"It's great to be able to go to help people when they're stranded," she said.
Trucks came from all over New England, New York, and New Jersey.
Earl Johnson, a truck photographer who has published several truck books, came all the way from Atlanta. Johnson said he will photograph three trucks from the show for his next book.
New Hampshire State Police Capt. Christopher Colitti was among many troopers who stopped by the trade show to pay respects to the men and women of the towing industry who answer calls for help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
"They're highly professional," said Colitti. "They are a key asset in our accident recovery and we consider them first responders."
[John Carden Photo]