APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - It was clearly an emotional day Monday for first responders and the community who came to Fire Station 1 for both afternoon and evening processions.
Austin Brown holds an American flag as a procession of more than 200 emergency vehicles passes by (WBAY photo)
We saw people crying, holding their hands to their chest, and saluting as emergency vehicles passed by.
Appleton Police say Monday night's processional following the memorial service brought out more than 200 emergency vehicles from all over the state.
Dozens of supporters stood outside Station 1 -- where Lundgaard worked and has been posthumously promoted to Driver/Engineer -- to pay final respects.
"I've seen a lot of it. I mean, as much as people you see lining the streets just for this alone, you know. It's just amazing. You see people who don't ever see before, and it's just amazing," Michael Page of Appleton said.
"My dad's a fireman, and we came to support the community and to support, because if that happened to my dad, I felt like I would want these people to come support, too," Cash Vosters of Kaukauna said.
Supporters say the sacrifice Mitch Lundgaard made for the community deserves all the honor.
William Smith remembers when Lundgaard helped him down the stairs when he suffered a small stroke.
"It's sad, but he did what he had to do. I can't really say no more. He had to do what he had to do. I mean, to take his life like this -- he didn't ask for it, he didn't look for it, he was out to help somebody," Smith said.
People not only lined the streets during the procession but also dropped off donations and cards to Station 1.
Chief Peter O'Leary of the Fond du Lac Fire Department said, "Several of us were outside the firehouse and there's people coming up to us with checks and cards for the Appleton Fire Department and Mitch and his family. We're taking all those and depositing them in the Fire Chief's office. You know, it says an awful lot about a community that reveres their fire department."
Some couldn't hold back tears seeing the evening procession make its way from Appleton Alliance Church back to the funeral chapel.
The community said their goodbyes to a fallen hero one last time.
"A lot of emotions. Some people were wiping their eyes, the tears, pride. Some people you know rendered a salute, and others they stood at attention, you know, or silence to give respect to him," Page said.