Whidbey News-Times


Oak Harbor firefighters grow ’staches to help wounded warriors

Whidbey News-Times Staff Reporter
November 7, 2013 · Updated 5:51 PM

Members of the Oak Harbor Fire Department, including Conor Ching, grew out mustaches to raise money for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit. / Contributed

Some might think it’s no-shave November, but at the Oak Harbor Fire Department, it was ‘Stachetober last month.

During the entire month of October, firefighters grew out their mustaches to raise money for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Wounded Warrior Foundation.

The foundation provides assistance and support for active-duty and veterans who are wounded, injured or ill, and for their families.

It also helps maintain the EOD Memorial.

Fire Chief Ray Merrill said the department raised $550 to donate to the foundation. Lt. Craig Anderson organized the event.

The three-time winner of the “worst mustache” award was proud of the accomplishment as well. Conor Ching, a firefighter and EMT, said growing out his mustache was all for a good cause.

“It’s very thin, very ugly and I only grow it in October — it’s that ugly.” Ching said.

“It puts me in for a guaranteed win.”

When the contest was started three years ago, Ching said the department had categories only for best and worst mustaches.

The fire department expanded the contest, and mustache growers can compete under the additional categories of lifer — one is meant to have that mustache for the rest of his life — and the best 1970s mustache.

Through it all, Ching has maintained his reign as the worst mustache in the department.

But he doesn’t hold on to that honor once ‘Stachetober is over.

“After the last night in the month, it’s gone,” he said.

Though almost everyone participates, some spouses can pay an additional amount to keep their loved ones out of the contest.

Ching said one firefighter has never participated because his wife won’t allow it.

Key to Ching’s success, he said, is having thin facial hair, and he doesn’t think there’s much competition to dethrone him next year.

“And it’s all about having a good time,” he said.


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