Wailing sirens, flashing lights and cool vintage iron could be seen and heard recently in North Aurora, signaling the return of the annual Chicagoland Emergency Vehicle Show.
This event is now in its 17th year and is the largest of its type in the Midwest. Vintage emergency vehicles came from as far away as Florida, Georgia and Minnesota on Aug. 2 to participate, while area departments displayed their more modern police and fire equipment and tactics.
One demonstration involved officers from the Kane County SWAT team and the North Aurora Police Department. As spectators watched from a safe distance, the lawmen simulated a high-risk entry into an office trailer.
Other activities for enthusiasts included a Friday night parade, swap meet and vintage fire truck water pumping display. A Lifestar medevac helicopter was on site for viewing.
Retired police officer Bruce Biancalana showed a 1970 Cadillac ambulance. The vehicle was originally ordered new through Midwest Professional Cars of Chicago and put to use by the fire department in Romeoville.
The Cadillac ambulance was retired in 1978 but then went to work at an Oglala American Indian reservation in South Dakota. But when a cylinder head needed replacement on its 472-cubic-inch V-8 engine, the decision was made to put the chiseled Cadillac out to pasture, literally.
The ambulance was headed for the scrap yard when Biancalana made the purchase in 2008. The Caddy returned to the Midwest and was brought back to life through a multiyear restoration. Other than installing a new headliner, the hands-on enthusiast performed all the work himself.
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