They lined the sidewalks in their hundreds, tears streaming down cheeks in a final goodbye for a much-loved Truro son.
One elderly man offered a tearful salute as the fire truck, draped in black shrouds and bearing Skyler Lee Blackie’s uniform, rolled down Prince Street, while many others wept openly.
A procession led by bagpipers and the Truro Police Service, followed by uniformed firefighters and police officers from far and wide, marched through a portion of the downtown before coming to a halt outside the Colchester Legion Stadium.
It was there Blackie’s fellow firefighter Logan Daly fought through his own tears as he stood before thousands of onlookers, bidding his personal farewell to a dear friend.
“Let’s all be a little more like Skyler,” he said. “I love you, brother.”
Earlier in his speech, Daly addressed Skyler’s family and wife Erin, reassuring her that “he picked you and you picked him.” He asked her to be thankful for the time she had with Blackie, saying it was by no means wasted, while acknowledging there was nothing he could say to ease her grief.
He spoke of Blackie’s kind nature, sense of humour, zest for life and someone who could be trusted when the going was tough, describing his friend as a role model.
Daly urged Blackie’s parents, other loved ones and friends to be proud of him.
“His smile lit up the room,” said Daly. “His kindness, thoughtfulness and empathy were remarkable. You guys made him that way.”
Firefighter Tom Malone recalled how he met an 18-year-old Blackie as a rookie recruit and how they were “inseparable,” when they once shared a house together.
Malone paid tribute to Blackie as a courageous member of the Truro Fire Service who was not scared of anything.
“… Except when we came home one night to find a small garden snake in our living room,” said Malone. He couldn’t come inside, he was terrified of this thing. He ran in the shed, grabbed a shovel and the rest is history.”
Back at work, the two friends enjoyed long chats in the gym and heated debates about the best firefighting tactics, or even teasing their captain, loving the fact they were placed on the same crew after they moved to the Truro department.
Blackie served as a firefighter in Truro from 2013 until his death on March 20.