By Mary O’KEEFE and Sammi SLAYBACK
The Crescenta Valley community had the opportunity to recognize 9/11 last week with three separate events held over two days. The first was a Remembrance Parade that began at 9:11 a.m. on 9/11 that wound through the streets of the Crescenta Valley. Later that day, an emotional tribute was held honoring those emergency responders who were victims in the terrorists’ attack on Sept. 11, 2001. The tribute was also a chance to thank those responders who support the Crescenta Valley area. Finally, on Saturday the Crescenta Valley Youth Town Council and Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation sponsored an event at the memorial wall at Two Strike Park.
The Remembrance Parade commemorated Patriot Day and featured 41 classic cars from the Early Rodders Car Club whose members joined the Los Angeles County Fire Dept., California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Sheriffs’ Crescenta Valley Station. The red, white and blue caravan began at Ralph’s market in La Crescenta and passed local schools as children came out to greet them and wave flags.
At the first turn, up Rosemont Avenue, Dwight Sityar, one of the event organizers and a member of Early Rodders, worried that no one would be outside.
“I hope they got the information,” Sityar said nervously.
As his car, the first behind the emergency responders, drove closer to Rosemont Middle School, the sound of students cheering could be heard, and then Sityar saw the sidewalk lined with cheering, flag waving students. It was almost too much for him to believe.
“Oh my, look at that. … look at all those kids,” he said, choking back tears.
Mike Smith of Bob Smith Toyota was in the passenger seat of Sityar’s car. At the sight of the Rosemont students, Smith began waving the American flag and cheering.
That level of emotion continued as the caravan drove past the CV Sheriff’s Station, the fire stations and schools in La Crescenta and Montrose. The event ended at LACoFD Station 82 in La Cañada. Throughout the route, people stood outside their businesses and homes, waving flags and chanting U-S-A.
“It was unbelievable,” Sityar said.
Later that night, a more somber event took place at Bob Smith Toyota.
Organized by the same people who oversaw the morning parade – Steve Pierce, Jean Maluccio and Dwight Sityar – the evening event included patriotic and spiritual music. Early responders including members of the LACoFD, Glendale Police Dept., CV Sheriff’s and CERT [Community Emergency Response Team] stood as students from Lincoln and Valley View elementary schools sang to them. Tammy Flanders, Eli Locke, Faith Alone Band and Theatre Americana added their voices in song as well.
One of the more emotional moments was when Joshua Sneed of the Salvation Army spoke to the audience about responding to New York after 9/11.
“I wanted to be there,” Sneed said of his decision to volunteer to help with the aftermath of the terrorists’ attack.
He served at a tent that he labeled the “Hardhat Café” that was at ground zero in New York, where the Twin Towers fell. He supported those whose job it was to recover the victims and to clear the twisted metal of the fallen Twin Towers.
“I wanted to be there. I wanted to be there not to see more pain, not to see more hurt, but to step outside myself and help,” he said. “I wanted to ease the pain, I wanted to comfort.”
At the end of the evening those in attendance shook the hands of the first responders, thanking them for being there for the community.
Los Angeles County Fire Bat. Chief Lawrence Collins thanked everyone for the event and told the audience how important it was to remember this event.
“I was dispatched to 911 [New York City after the attack on 9/11/2001],” he said. “I saw first hand what happened.”
He spoke of his colleagues from New York fire and police departments who had lost their lives the day of 9/11/01.
During the Remembrance Parade, he said, there were a lot of children who weren’t even born when the attack on the U.S. occurred. He commented on how they were cheering the first responders as they drove by.
“The world has changed so drastically since then,” Collins said. “These children are our future … with their spirit and their respect we have a bright future in this country.”
On Saturday, the CV Youth Town Council hosted a 9/11 event with the help of the VFW and under the supervision of Mariam Barnes and CV Town Council Vice President Harry Leon. The CV Youth Town Council is a branch of the town council made up of a group of younger community members that provides a voice for Crescenta Valley’s youth.
On Saturday morning, approximately 45 individuals gathered at Two Strike Park to honor the memory of those who died in the collapse of the Twin Towers 13 years ago. The Youth Town Council chose to hold the event on Saturday because 9/11 fell on a Thursday this year; many people did not get the chance to properly honor the fallen due to work and school schedules.
The morning started with the Pledge of Allegiance led by the Armenian Scout Troop, followed by the National Anthem sung by Lori Sarti. Speeches were given by several people including Anthony Portantino, Crescenta Valley Lacrosse team coach Boz Crowther, and various members of the Youth Town Council and VFW. The speeches brought tears to the eyes of community members, particularly Crowther’s speech about his cousin who passed away in one of the towers that day.
“He told us about how he discovered that his cousin who worked in the tower actually saved over 20 people’s lives and he lost his life in the process,” shared Town Council alternate Mariam Barnes. “It was a great story.”
Though this was the first time the Youth Town Council hosted an event, Barnes made it clear that it won’t be the last.
“We plan to make this an annual event,” she said. “It went well.”