WILLIAMSTOWN - The 68th annual Williamstown Volunteer Fire Department's Ice Cream Social got off to a soggy start Friday evening in Tomlinson Park.
"It's gonna hurt," said fire Chief Joe Ruf. "If people don't come, we don't make money."
The social is the biggest fundraiser the volunteer fire department has each year with the funds raised through it going to help the department purchase equipment to better serve the community.
"This rain is a shame because everybody looks forward to this," said volunteer and Williamstown resident Mary Lee Collins. "It's the social event of the summer.
"Of course, we've been praying for rain and it had to happen tonight," she said.
Several Williamstown High School class reunions are traditionally held the weekend of the social with graduates coming from all over to attend.
"Our daughter is coming from the Pittsburgh area tonight for her 30th class reunion," Collins said.
In the more than half-a-century of the event, the social has been a homecoming for the community and those who grew up there.
"Every year there are classes from Williamstown High School having their reunion at the same time as the social and a lot of families have get-togethers this weekend," Ruf said. "This is so important to the community that even if we didn't make a dime we'd have to have the ice cream social."
People huddled under umbrellas and rain jackets to stay dry as they waited for hot dogs to be cooked and ice cream to be scooped.
Ruf said the firefighters and other volunteers hoped to dish out more than 135 gallons of vanilla ice cream, with hot dogs, chips, popcorn and homemade cakes and pies. The dozens of cakes and pies for sale were donated by members of the community.
The ice cream social is the largest fundraiser for the more than 100-year-old department. Money from the event will help the department purchase equipment and upgrade programs.
Last year's social brought in between $7,000 and $8,000.
"Every penny we get goes to help the community," Ruf said.
While some money is raised from the sale of the ice cream and food, Ruf said the majority comes from donations.
"People don't always come to the social for the ice cream," he said. "A lot of times people will come and give me a check as a donation as they are paying for their hot dog and pie."