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Update: High-fashion firefighters from Sedan, Minn., get worldwide attention (video)

Two Sedan firefighters fight a truck fire during the St. Patrick's Day Parade Saturday. A video of the two - in their parade dresses - is now going viral on the web. Web photo from Paul Streitz video

Update: 10 a.m.

SEDAN -- Firefighters from around the world put out flames every day without getting much attention.

But two firefighters from the rural town of Sedan are getting worldwide attention for the attire they wore Saturday in Padua while putting out a fire.

A YouTube video of Ben Terhaar and Ted Aubart that shows the firefighters manning fire hoses while wearing long gowns has been a hot item since it was posted this weekend. As of this morning it had been seen by more than 50,000 viewers and has been featured on numerous national news sites. By this morning, the video had been view more than 100,000 times.

"No way. No way," Terhaar said Wednesday when asked if he ever dreamed he and Aubart would become overnight media darlings. "We didn't expect it but it is kind of neat, you know."

They were interviewed by a Minneapolis television station earlier this week and a reporter from New York was meeting them last night in the fire hall for a story on Inside Edition. A CNN reporter had called twice yesterday, said Terhaar, who's taking the new-found celebrity status with a grain of salt and good dose of humor.

He laughed when asked if the fame had changed him.

The locals are keeping tabs of which statewide and national news outlets were calling and neighbors have been keeping the buzz going in Sedan, population 45.

"That's all you hear about," said Sheila Emmers, who serves food and drinks at Rooney's Bar, which is the only business in town. "All kinds of people are talking."

"I can't believe how many news sites have picked it up," Terhaar said.

The video shows the two men, wearing rather flouncy long dresses with spaghetti straps, non-too-gracefully hoisting a fire hose to extinguish a vehicle fire. Part of the video shows one of the guys pulling the shoulder strap up as he runs.

Although the video has garnered some snarky and off-color comments, the real story behind the YouTube sensation shows the down-to-earth dedication and hard work of small town fire departments.

As Terhaar tells it, he and about seven other male members of the Sedan Fire Department were on a float wearing gowns, wigs, long gloves and jewelry, waiting for the Padua St. Patrick's Day parade to start Saturday.

They were wearing the odd getups to promote the fire department's annual "beauty pageant" fundraiser that takes place Aug. 17 during Sedan's community festival.

People put money in jars for their favorite firefighter beauty.

The winner gets a crown and the money goes to the Sedan Fire Department, which operates on a budget that's so bare the volunteer members don't get a stipend and their outdated equipment includes a 1978 Dodge grass rig.

Just before the parade was about to begin someone shouted that they needed firefighters to put out a fire.

The guys on the float laughed, said Terhaar, thinking the request was a joke.

But then they saw black smoke billowing from the hood of a pickup that was parked on the jam-packed streets of Padua, another rural town that's so small it doesn't have a fire department. It relies on the Sauk Centre Fire Department, about 12 miles away.

Terhaar said he looked at Aubart, said "let's go." They jumped off the float and jumped into the Sedan fire truck that was also lined up in the parade route. Terhaar's cousin, Megan -- another firefighter -- was driving.

Within minutes the fire, which had spread to a second vehicle, was out.

If they hadn't been there, the strong winds Saturday could've easily spread fire to numerous vehicles, said Terhaar.

Although they've heard good reports for their quick call to duty, their moment in the spotlight is all they'll get.

The Sedan Fire Department operates on a slim budget and all firefighters are volunteers.

They best they can hope for is that the YouTube attention will generate some large donations during the August beauty pageant.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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