Royal Oak firefighter bids farewell at his annual walk with kids to school

He started the walk one year after becoming a Royal Oak firefighter

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – The past two-plus decades have flown by for Royal Oak Fire Department Captain Cary Thompson, who is leading the annual Firefighters’ Walk to School.

Thompson has watched students grow into adults and participate with their kids.

“It has been amazing to see that transformation,” Thompson said.

He started the walk one year after becoming a Royal Oak firefighter.

“This event has been going on for the last 24 years,” Thompson said. “I started it when some kids came up to me in the supermarket and asked me to walk them to school.”

It has grown by the hundreds over the decades.

“It’s cool,” said a student participating in the walk.

A parent told Local 4 it was her seventh year participating in the walk.

“It is actually my favorite event of the year,” said the parent.

This year’s walk is significant for Thompson.

“Are you ready? Let’s go,” Thompson said at the start of the walk.

But is he ready to go?

“It’s been amazing to me,” Thompson said. “It was just a little idea that I thought honestly would be one and done. But it’s one of the things that lasted over the whole course of my career from the beginning to the end now.”

Thompson is closing a rewarding chapter.

He announced his retirement as a firefighter to the students and their parents.

“Royal Oak is one of the greatest cities in the state of Michigan, and I have been able to serve the community,” Thompson said.

Thompson is hoping the walk continues in his absence.

His last day on the clock is Oct. 16.

Thompson will be taken home by his fellow firefighters in a fire truck.

About the Author:

Will Jones rejoined the Local 4 News team in February 2023 as a weekend anchor and reporter. He previously worked as a general assignment reporter for the station from 2012 to 2015.