Woehlke Palooza aims to help fallen firefighter’s family

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A two-day event at U.S. 12 in Wayne will benefit the family of Wayne-Westland Firefighter Brian Woelhke who died in a May 8 fire that gutted Marvaso's Italiane Grill and Electric Stick Poker Room in Westland.

A two-day event at U.S. 12 in Wayne will benefit the family of Wayne-Westland Firefighter Brian Woelhke who died in a May 8 fire that gutted Marvaso’s Italiane Grill and Electric Stick Poker Room in Westland.

Some well-known musical acts will take the stage Friday and Saturday, Aug. 23-24, when U.S. 12 and the Wayne Westland Professional Fire Fighters. Local 1279 host the first ever Woehlke Palooza.

The palooza benefits the family of Brian Woehlke, the Wayne-Westland firefighter who died May 8 in the line of duty. The event will feature music, firefighter events and family activities.

“It’s a celebration of Brian Woehlke,” said John Goci of U.S. 12. “Brian used to hang out here with his best friend. His friend still comes in here, but it’s hard.”

The event is being held in and outside U.S. 12 at Sims and Second Street in downtown Wayne. The outdoor event will be held in the parking lot of U.S. 12 rain or shine beginning at 5 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday.

Activities on Friday include a corn hole tournament, firefighters auction and beer pong. Food and drinks also will be available. The music will start at 6 p.m. and feature the Thrill Billies, followed by Ty Stone and headliner LoCash Cowboys.

On Saturday, the palooza gets started a noon and features a variety of family activities. There will be kids’ contests, including ice cream eating, Hula Hoop and musical chairs, clowns, face painting, a bounce house, dunk tank and firefighters competitions like water ball, rolling water ball and combat challenge.

Firefighter events

Also planned is a fire station cook-off and tactical demonstrations by firefighters. Food, drinks and a DJ also will be available all day inside and outside in the patio. WRIF radio will broadcast live from U.S. 12 on Saturday.

Inside, the Social Bandits, Juke Box Heroes, Pistol Day Parade and E5C4P3 —The Journey Tribute Band will perform, beginning at 6 p.m.

“It’ll be a lot of fun, there be a lot of family things,” Goci said. “It’ll be a great time.”

Goci and the firefighters union have been working on the benefit for about six weeks. They have been able to “get some good sponsors” to help bring in some national acts like Ty Stone who has toured nationally and is affiliated with Kid Rock. LoCash Cowboys also have written several number one hits, Goci said.

We’ve gotten some anonymous sponsors and we need to nail down a few more,” Goci said. “Now we’re focusing on promoting it.”

“Friday will be country, Saturday will be rock with the amazing Journey tribute band,” he added

Tickets are $10 and are available in advance at all Wayne-Westland fire stations, U.S. 12, and www.netpix.com.

Hopes are to raise $16,000 to $20,000 for the Woehlke family — his wife Jennifer and 13-month-old daughter Ava. The family will attend the event, according to Goci who is confident about how much can be raised. The bar can accommodate up to 3,000 people inside and out each day.

“I really hope we get 6,000 people, our goal is to generate 100 percent of the proceeds for the family fund,” Goci said. “There’s a lot of support for the Woehlke family and the firefighters.”

Helping the family

Numerous fundraisers have been held since Brian Woehlke died in the May 8 fire. He had been with the department for 10 months, when he responded to a fire at Marvaso’s Italian Grille and Electric Stick just after 8 a.m. A mayday distress radio call was received from him about 9:30 a.m., and his body was recovered from the collapsed building about 12:40 p.m.

It was determined that he died of smoke and soot inhalation after became trapped in debris from the collapsed businesses. He was the first firefighter to fall in the line of duty in the City of Westland Fire Department’s 47-year history.

Fire investigators have yet to rule on a cause for the fire at the popular restaurant and gaming room. In July, Wayne-Westland Fire Assistant Chief/Fire Marshal John Adams had said he was waiting for another engineering report before completing his investigation.

At the time, Adams said that there was no evidence of accelerants found at the scene.

Goci is hoping the palooza becomes a yearly thing. It’s being held on the weekend that the city used to hold Wayne Wheelfest before canceling it because of financial problems.

“I’m praying for good weather,I hope all of the rain gets out of the way before Friday,” Goci said. “That weekend used to be Wayne Wheelfest and from what I remember, it never rained.”

Courtesy of Observer & Eccentric

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