Raining melons: Second annual event raises funds to fight Muscular Dystrophy

Published 10:48 pm Monday, August 16, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Watermelons raining down from 40 feet in the air would normally be cause for alarm, but that wasn't the case on Sunday.
The Niles City Fire Department held its second annual watermelon drop to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association at Martin's Supermarket, 720 S. 11th St.
Participants came from different parts of Michiana to toss watermelons from the ladder of the department's engine. Chuck Chastane, Elkhart, Ind., stopped by after church.
Chastane's son, Jake, was excited after he dropped his watermelon.
The event was conceived by Lt. Scott Rieth last year as an alternative to the "fill the boot" campaign to benefit the MDA.
But why did Rieth decide dropping watermelons would be a good way to raise money?
Rieth contacted Martin's Supermarket, which donated the watermelons, and the watermelon drop was born.
Last year, the firefighters raised about $1,400 through the drop and the union donated money to bring that total to $2,000, Rieth said.
When firefighters stopped taking donations around 2:30 p.m., they had gone through about 160 watermelons, Rieth said.
He couldn't estimate how much money the department raised.
Martin's also raised money by selling hot dogs, chips and soda for $2.
The drop also allowed firefighters to get some practice on the ladder.
Next year, Rieth plans to expand the event by possibly inviting the Niles City Police Department.