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Several Thousand Expected to Attend Fallen Brother's Funeral

Several thousand firefighters from across the country and Canada are expected to arrive in Peabody Friday morning to attend the funeral of James Rice.

Several thousand firefighters from across the country and Canada are expected to converge on Peabody Square Friday morning to honor their fallen brother, Peabody Firefighter James Rice.

, fighting a three-alarm fire at 5 Hancock St. He leaves behind his wife, Amy and their three children: Alyssa (12), Katelyn (9) and Ryan (7).

A motorcade will carry Rice's body from to the square where firefighters will join in a procession to . The firefighters will arrive in Peabody out the and travel downtown by bus.

The services are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. and have been coordinated by state firefighters' union, working closely with Rice's family.

Steve MacDonald, a Boston firefighter helping organize the funeral, told the Salem News that all the "pomp and circumstance" you'd expect for a death in the line of duty will be included in the ceremony.

MacDonald said it is both a way for firefighters far and wide to give Rice "a proper goodbye" and also to send a message to his family that his "life meant something."

Rice's family attends , but due to ongoing renovations at the church, St. John the Baptist was chosen instead for the funeral service.

Engine 5, which Rice was assigned to, will bear the honor of carrying his casket, while Ladder 1 serves as the flower bearer. Ladder 1 was at the scene last Friday at Hancock Street.

The two trucks along with several official vehicles, three limos for the family and a motorcycle escort will make up the motorcade to the square.

Rice's helmet will be carried in the procession by Peabody Fire Capt. Jay
Dowling, a 17-year veteran of the department and lifelong friend of Rice.

Dowling says the two shared many things over the years -- season tickets to the Patriots for nearly 20 years, they played sports together and were even roommates at one point.

Dowling says they were also both married to their respective wives just a week apart.

Dowling will be one of the speakers at the funeral service along with Fire Chief Steven Pasdon, Mayor Michael Bonfanti and Rice's father, Brian McKenna-Rice.

On either side of Dowling at Friday's procession will be Lt. Scott Paturelli and Firefighter Anarndo Texieria, both of whom worked alongside Rice on his last shift on Engine 5.

Officiating the service will be is Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, assisted by Rev. Christopher Foustoukos of Saint Vasilios. Other area Orthodox priests and clergy will be present as well.

All five fire stations in the city will be manned by other area departments, in much the same way as in providing Mutual Aid for a fire, only this time, the station coverage will allow all 100 or so Peabody firefighters to attend their brother's funeral. Similar coverage will be provided for Thursday's wake as well.

Deputy Chief Joseph Daly will ring the bell at the end of the service -- three sets of 5-5-5 while a script is read by Russell Lewis, president of the Peabody firefighters' union.

St. John's seats 800 in the main church and 400 in the lower church. Boston news stations will televise the procession and the service live, starting at 9 a.m.

Gov. Deval Patrick and Lt. Gov. Tim Murray are planning to attend the funeral.

Burial after the service will be at Cedar Grove Cemetery in South Peabody and is for family and firefighters only. MacDonald said Peabody firefighters will act as pallbearers and carry his helmet.

Traffic Friday

  • Police say that from 7 a.m. to approximately noon, Lowell Street from Sawyer Road to Peabody Square will be closed.
  • From approximately 9-10:30 a.m. expect multiple streets along the funeral procession route to be closed.
  • The route begins at the funeral home at 82 Lynn St. and processes down to Washington Street, turning left onto Main Street and down to Peabody Square, then up Lowell Street to School Street and into the church parking lot across to Church Street.
  • Streets along and around the processional route may be closed during this time frame. Motorists should expect traffic delays.

Public parking

  • Some parking will be available at or near the funeral home and the church, but additional parking will be at the and . A bus will provide transportation to the funeral home and the church.
Erin Cyr December 29, 2011 at 09:53 PM
Is there more information on which television channels will carry the funeral, or all of them? I am assuming you mean 4, 5, and 7?
Tara Vocino December 29, 2011 at 10:00 PM
Yes, the main Boston news stations will televise the procession/service, beginning at 9 a.m. Thanks for checking, Erin!
Tara Vocino December 30, 2011 at 02:46 PM
Currently, the procession is live on channel 4, 5, 7, and 8 (FOX 25). It's emotional.

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