ALTON, IL - A long line of people wrapped around St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Alton on Monday. They were paying their respects to the family of fallen Godfrey Fire Captain Jake Ringering. The visitation was scheduled to end at 8 p.m. but even at that hour, there were still some people waiting to get inside the church.
“These guys rush in when other guys rush out and it’s just the bravery and the sacrifice that they all give, it’s amazing to see everybody turnout,” said Hartford resident Andrea Vantz.
Hundreds of firefighters headed into St. Mary’s at 6 p.m. as part of a traditional walk through ceremony.
Some bystanders stopped and wiped away tears as they watched the line of firefighters enter the church.
“It’s just beautiful the way they all stick together. They’re all, the bond that they have, I mean we’ve been standing here for a long time and they are still coming,” said Alton resident Jean Greenwell.
Some church members said they planned on lining the streets around St. Mary’s on Tuesday to show their support for Ringering’s family as the funeral procession leaves the church. Ringering was 37 and was married with three children.
“If these firefighters can come from everywhere surely the community can also show their emotional support,” said Alton resident Patricia West.
The Godfrey Fire Protection District estimates the funeral procession will begin outside St. Mary’s at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday.