The public is invited to join in the 9/11 Remembrance Parade and the celebration of firefighters and law enforcement at Bob Smith Toyota.
By Mary O’KEEFE
his year’s 9/11 Remembrance Parade has a few extra vehicles, a few extra schools and a few extra riders.
“This started three years ago,” said Dwight Sityar.
It began when Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce members Steve Pierce, Jean Maluccio and Sityar started talking about 9/11 and how La Crescenta commemorates it.
“We realized that nothing was being done,” Sityar said. “So at first we thought about getting a big truck and driving from [fire station] to fire station but that was not feasible.”
They discussed a few more ideas but Sityar suggested riders in a parade of classic cars. Sityar is a member of the Early Rodders, a group of classic car enthusiasts.
“Early Rodders are always supportive of community events,” Sityar said.
Members and their vehicles can be seen at the United Artists Theater every Saturday morning, but also are at many community events including Montrose Movie Night and provide the parade cars in the Montrose Christmas Parade.
The trio of Chamber members wanted this remembrance to include those who serve the community as well.
“Then Steve said we should invite [representatives] from fire and law enforcement and Jean said, ‘Okay, let’s get the ball rolling,’” he said.
Calls were made and the first year there were a few cars with local community members along for the ride. The caravan went past all the fire stations and the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station, and a few schools.
That first year some of the schools had kids out cheering and waving American flags. The sight was emotional for Sityar and all the drivers and riders.
Each year more people have come onto the sidewalk and many more kids have stood outside their schools.
“When you go up Rosemont [Middle School] and Monte Vista Elementary … and all the schools, not only did it surprise me but made me teary-eyed,” Sityar said. “To see these kids come out and still remember 9/11 … just to see that is nothing like you have ever experienced.”
This year the number of cars participating, including first responder vehicles, is about 53.
“The extended route has taken a little extra time. However, it is exciting having extended it to [Jet Propulsion Laboratory] and Fire Camp 2,” said Maluccio. “The La Cañada High School [administration and students] are looking forward to [the parade] and Dwight is working hard to make it the best time for them as we pass by.”
This year the route is extended to pass the entrance gate at JPL and end at Los Angeles County Fire Camp 2.
The route begins at Ralphs Market parking lot and will pass schools including Rosemont, Crescenta Valley and Clark Magnet high schools and elementary schools including Monte Vista, Mountain, Valley View, Dunsmore, Lincoln and La Crescenta. It will also pass St. James the Less Catholic School and the La Crescenta Library. To see the complete route scan the QR code related to this article or go to www.cvweekly.com. A large-scale map will be available next week in CVW.
The Remembrance event will continue at 7 p.m. at Bob Smith Toyota. Local school children will perform for the firefighters and law enforcement.
“It is our way to honor them,” Sityar said. “It will be a brief [performance event] because we don’t know when [firefighters and law enforcement] might be called out.”
Coffee and dessert will be provided by Bob Smith Toyota.
None of this could happen without the support of California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Crescenta Valley Station, Sityar said.
“We’re very appreciative of the CHP and sheriffs, also to La Cañada City Council,” Maluccio said.
As the organizers speak to community members about the event many share their story of where they were on Sept. 11, 2001.
On 9/11/2001, 10 men hijacked four commercial airlines. American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 were intentionally crashed into the World Trade Center towers in New York City. At that site 2,753 people were killed including New York firefighters, police officers and Port Authority officers. Another hijacked plane, American Airlines 77, crashed into the Pentagon killing 184 people. Near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field killing 40 people. It was discovered these terrorist attacks were orchestrated by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
For many the day was beyond belief. Some worried about their loved ones and friends on the planes and on the ground in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. The days that passed brought volunteers who went to ground zero at the three locations and helped with recovery efforts.
“I remember that day,” said Capt. Didier Conrad, LACoFD Station 63. “I was working Station 19 [in La Cañada].”
His shift was ending and he was getting ready to go home when the firefighters turned on the television and saw the terrorist plot unfold.
“An all-call came out that no one was to go home,” he said.
That was the first time he had ever known the fire department to do that but the country was on high alert. The planes that were in the air after the attacks were all ordered to land but there were still planes in the air and many were in route to Los Angeles.
“I remember going out [in front of] the station and looking [down] toward L.A. That was a clear day,” Conrad recalled.
Firefighters stayed on alert as the investigation into the terrorism continued.
Many of the kids who will stand out to wave flags and participate in the 9/11 Remembrance Parade were born after 2001, which is why the organizers feel it is even more important that this day is remembered.
“We will never forget and we shouldn’t,” Maluccio said. “[We want to] remind the world out there – you can wound us, but you will never conquer us.”