Firefighters connect the dots between lederhosen and coats for kids

East Side firefighter Andrew Bieze poses in front of a green screen wearing no shirt and some lederhosen. Firefighters posed for mildly suggestive calendar photos as part of an effort to raise money to give low-income children new winter coats. (submitted photo)
East Side firefighter Andrew Bieze poses in front of a green screen wearing no shirt and some lederhosen. Firefighters posed for mildly suggestive calendar photos as part of an effort to raise money to give low-income children new winter coats. (submitted photo)

If you have a hard time connecting the dots between some firefighters wearing nothing but lederhosen and low-income children getting free coats, you’re not alone.

Nonetheless, they are related -- St. Paul firefighters, including some serving on the East Side, have decided to get half naked in order to do some fundraising for Operation Warm, a national firefighter effort to raise money for low-income children to receive winter coats.

St. Paul firefighters’ efforts led to getting over 500 new coats in the hands of every student at Dayton’s Bluff Elementary School in 2014, and they’re hoping to repeat the feat at other schools next winter.

Gearing up for that, they took off their shirts and put on some lederhosen, which are leather shorts with H-shaped suspenders. They’re a traditional leisure clothing of German men. The lady firefighters wore dirndls, dresses which are roughly the   female equivalent of the lederhosen.

So how does all of this translate to coats? The deal is, the firefighters, both men and women, pose for photos wearing the slightly suggestive German-themed clothing for a calendar promoting German Fest, which will take place June 19 through 21 at the Schmidt Brewery. In return, the firefighters will sell calendars, and the proceeds will go to Operation Warm. In addition, the firefighters will run some game booths at German Fest, and the proceeds from those games will also go towards Operation Warm.

Colin Oglesbee, a St. Paul firefighter, heads the local fire department’s Operation Warm program.

Oglesbee said it’s not yet clear which St. Paul schools will receive coats this year, but he’s working with St. Paul Public Schools to identify high-need schools.

He said the firefighters chosen weren’t necessarily recruited based on looks. Instead, it was simply whoever volunteered.

When asked if he posed for the calendar, he replied: “I’m sorry to say that I did.”

Regardless, he said he was able to recruit other firefighters rather easily -- “I strong-armed and conned them,” he joked.

On a more serious note, he added that “the firefighters are really behind this cause ... as long as the proceeds are going to do good things, they’ll do pretty much anything I ask them.”

It remains to be seen what that might translate into next.

-- Patrick Larkin

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