SCOTIA, N.Y. – An annual fireworks show was dedicated to a local woman who lost her life in a fire Thursday.
The Jumpin Jacks Drive-In fireworks show is the highlight of the summer for many Scotia residents. But some watched with a heavy heart Friday as they remembered longtime Jumpin Jacks employee Jill Vanselow.
Vanselow died from smoke caused by a fire at her North Ten Broeck apartment complex Thursday. Cody Austin was Vanselow’s co-worker, and his mother lived in the same building. He said he could see smoke from the fire all the way from Jumpin Jacks.
“I’ve always seen her walking in and out of the apartments,” he said. “At work she’d always say hi to me, talk to me, and try to strike up a conversation.”
Vanselow was known as “Jilly Bean” by those who loved her. She worked serving ice cream at Jumpin Jacks for the past 11 summers.
“She became part of our family, and we wouldn’t let her go, so she made it a career,” owner Mark Lansing said.
Lansing said fireworks were always the best part of Vanselow’s summers, so when he heard the news of her death, he knew Friday’s fireworks were for her.
“It’ll increase the turnout tonight as a memorial for her,” he said.
It wasn’t only Vanselow’s co-workers and friends who mourned her death. Many of her customers also came out to the show with her memory in mind.
“She was a very nice lady,” customer Laurel Barns said. “I met her a lot of times at Jumpin Jacks.”
The drive-in employees all wore her initials on their hats and sleeves Friday to show she may be gone but will never be forgotten at Jumpin Jacks.
“She’s going to be missed,” Lansing said. “We’ll never forget her. She’s part of what makes this place run.”
The Scotia Police Chief said the fire was ruled accidental, and foul play is not suspected in Vanselow’s death.