KENOSHA -- The coronavirus pandemic didn't get in the way of a special birthday celebration in Kenosha Sunday, June 28. Dozens came out to recognize a retired firefighter on his 90th birthday. Will Rice retired in 1993, but still has a lot of friends with the Kenosha Fire Department, and on Sunday, they celebrated him in a big way.
The sound of sirens was welcome noise outside The Legacy at St. Joseph's. Fire trucks and ambulances didn't show up for an emergency, but instead, a big celebration. While COVID-19 may be limiting visitors at the assisted living facility, it didn't get in the way of Rice's birthday party.
"I consider him to be a brother, and that's why we honor him," said Richard Bosanko, retired battalion chief.
The event, organized by a former co-worker brought out current firefighters and EMTs as well as residence of The Legacy. Rice retired from the Kenosha Fire Department 27 years ago. He started his career in the 1950s.
"It was appropriate the community come here today to honor him for his efforts throughout the community," said Bosanko.
Rice's appreciation may not have been summed up with a lot of words, but it was written on his face.
"He's like, a guardian angel," said Rice.
"I think he was pretty excited about it," said Bosanko. "He might have even had a tear in his eye."
It was a big gesture to show Rice he's not forgotten. With COVID-19 forcing people to be apart, this group let him know they were celebrating together.
Rice and the organizer said they're already looking forward to next year's celebration -- hopefully at a tavern.