By Maddy PUMILIA
La Cañada locals came together this Memorial Day weekend to have fun, to eat good food and most importantly, to remember veterans and fallen soldiers as a part of the 38th annual Fiesta Days.
Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, politicians and others gathered Monday morning honoring many veterans. The veterans proudly stood at the iconic Memorial Park gazebo. Each veteran was introduced along with what branch of the military he or she belonged to and the years he or she was in the uniform. Many soldiers had earned medals such as the Purple Heart award. A special 48 star flag was raised reflecting the World War II era when Alaska and Hawaii were not states. Letters from soldiers serving in previous wars, including the Civil War, were read to the audience. Some of these were particularly poignant not all the authors survived their service. One soldier honored was George Kritznan. Kritznan served in both World War II and the Korean War. He has been retired for 60 years.
“I was called back into Korea. And in Korea, I got shot in the shoulder on Valentine’s Day,” he recounted. He added that later he was “shot in the femur. Shattered the femur and severed a sciatica nerve. Spent about 18 months in the hospital.”
Another soldier present was MC Hill, who served in World War II.
“I fell four miles in a B-29 airplane and we came out of it just before we hit the ground. That was the worst,” he told the audience.
Bringing attention to the soldiers was an important part of the Memorial Day service. “We are trying to highlight the importance of remembering those men,” said Barbara Marshall, who helped organize the event.
After the ceremony, there was a parade from Cornishon Avenue to Gould Avenue. At 4 p.m., the firefighters raised the American flag and the weekend closed with Captain Cardiac and the Coronaries singing ’50s and ’60s rock and roll.
The weekend was sponsored by the La Cañada Chamber of Commerce. “It’s one time a year that the chamber gives back to the community,” said Pat Anderson, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce. “We can also showcase businesses.” Saturday morning started off with a French toast and sausage breakfast and a vintage car show. The breakfast was a fundraiser for Kiwanis.
“Kiwanis does various projects to help kids. We do local projects to helps schools as well as national and international projects,” said Priscilla Luther-Heft, who works for Kiwanis and owns Ocean View Books Etc. in Montrose.
“It was good. Very good,” agreed George Kamar, 7. George and his dad, Charlie, planned to go to attend the rest of the Fiesta Days events. Attendees had a choice of meals to enjoy on Sunday evening. Local favorite Los Gringos Locos provided Mexican fare or diners could choose a barbecued gourmet burger. While eating, the La Cañada High School Jazz Band provided entertainment followed by fireworks.
The weather was warm, but there was a bit of wind. “We’ve been blessed with sunshine,” volunteer Karen Poindexter said. “This year, we are very fortunate.”
“I love Fiesta Days,” added Miss La Cañada Flintridge Robin Miketta. “It shows La Cañada cares about America. It’s magical.”