Itching to shaveFor the past four weeks, Red Wing firefighter and paramedic Josh Johnholtz has been apologizing to the patients he helps take care of in the back of the department’s ambulances.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
For the past four weeks, Red Wing firefighter and paramedic Josh Johnholtz has been apologizing to the patients he helps take care of in the back of the department’s ambulances.
But it’s not for any wrongdoing on Johnholtz’s part. Instead, it’s for the moustache he’s been wearing since the beginning of the month.
“There’s a couple weird looks you get when you walk down the street,” fellow firefighter Trent Wentlandt agreed.
It’s all part of No Shave November, a national movement where men grow moustaches and other facial hair to raise awareness about men’s health issues — especially prostate cancer.
The Red Wing Fire Department crews are taking it a step further. In addition to raising awareness about cancer, they’re raising money for the local United Way’s Packing for the Weekend program, which provides meals for low-income families.
Organizer Wentlandt said he wanted to keep the money raised in the area rather than donating to a national cancer society.
“We want to keep it local,” he said.
At the beginning of the month, firefighters paid $20 to participate in the monthlong event. If anyone shaved before the end of the month, a $10 fine was collected.
“It should be roughly $500 when it’s all finished,” Wentlandt said.
Wentlandt said he tried to get a No Shave November event going at the department last year. But after about two weeks, “it failed miserably,” he said, and many of the participants shaved early.
This year, however, the fire crews came out in full-whiskered force, with about two-thirds of Red Wing’s firefighters participating. A couple of long-time moustache-wearers even shaved their faces to start off with a clean slate like the rest of the participants.
“It was as hard for them to shave as it was for us to not shave,” Johnholtz said.
In addition to raising money for a good cause, the fire crews said it’s just a good time.
“It’s camaraderie,” Johnholtz said, adding that the firefighters have been critiquing each other’s moustaches and poking fun at some of the more sparse beards. “It’s fun.”
Still, most of the firefighters agreed that they can’t wait for the end of the month, when they can go back to their normal looks.
“I think we’re all going to shave as soon as we can,” Johnholtz said. “At the stroke of midnight.”
The Red Wing Fire Department is holding a “best moustache” contest. Photos of just the moustaches will be uploaded to the local firefighter union’s Facebook page. The moustache with the most “likes” wins.
To vote, search for Red Wing Professional Firefighters Local 2078 on Facebook.