Ottawa firefighter Bob Rainboth has been volunteering for various projects and organi-zations for nearly 40 years.
He was just 16 when he volunteered to play for the Ottawa Firefighter Band at the suggestion of his father, Bob Rainboth Sr. who was also a firefighter.
“They needed an extra trumpet in the horn section and my dad told them I played trumpet so I guess you could say he volunteered me for the job,” recalls Rainboth.
In 1992, Rainboth followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the Gloucester Fire Department and continued to volunteer as a hockey official and coach.
1992 was also the year that he co-chaired the very first Santa Claus Parade with the late Jim Anderson.
“Back then the parade used to start at the Gloucester Arena and end at Place d’Orléans. It was 12.5 kilometres,” says Rainboth.
In 1996, after learning out night time Christmas parades in other cities, Rainboth suggested that the parade be shortened to its present route from Youville Drive and turned into its current format, Santa’s Parade of Lights.
“(Jim) thought it was a great idea. Unfortunately, he passed away a couple of months later and never got to see it,” explains Rainboth.
Some of the other projects and organi-zations he has been involved with include the Ottawa and National Fallen Firefighters Memorials, the Gloucester Minor Hockey Association and the Rideau Canoe Club.
For all the work his done, Rainboth was recently honoured by having a park named after him.
Bob Rainboth Park is located in Beacon Hill, immediately behind his house.
When he first found out about the honour he though it might be an April Fool’s joke, only it wasn’t April.
“It’s a pretty cool experience,” says Rain-both. “Humbling beyond belief. I’ve played with my kids in that park almost every day. I was even the ice rink attendant there before the pandemic.”
During the dedication ceremony, Rain-both was joined by his wife and their two kids along with members of the Ottawa Fire Service Band who performed for the occasion.Beacon Hill, Innes city councillor Tim Tierney made the suggestion to name the park in Rainboth’s honour in recognition of his lifelong commitment to serving the community. For his part Rainboth is extremely hon-oured at having been given the distinction while he’s still alive.
“This is the type of honour they usually give you after your dead,” jokes Rainboth, who was relieved to find out that having a park named after you doesn’t mean you’re responsible for it’s upkeep. “I don’t have to cut the grass,” laughs Rainboth.