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Wednesday, January 23 , 2019, 8:46 pm | Fair 49º


Milpas Holiday Parade Will Tip Hat to Firefighters

March rescheduled for Jan. 13

The Milpas Holiday Parade, which was canceled due to poor air quality as a result of the Thomas Fire, has been rescheduled for 1 p.m. Jan. 13, and it will have a bit of a twist.

“We’re honoring the heroes of the Thomas Fire,” said Bea Molina, president of the Milpas Community Association (MCA).

The Milpas Holiday Parade was among a number of seasonal events that were canceled due to unsafe conditions during the fire.

The parade originally was scheduled for Dec. 10, but its organizers in the Milpas Community Association became concerned over air-quality problems.

“Everyone was already having to wear masks, and the air quality registered as hazardous, per the county’s Air Pollution Control District, so there’s no way people could be outdoors for the big parade. It just wasn’t safe,” said Molina.

Reluctantly, the group issued cancellation notices Wednesday before the parade.

“The Milpas parade has been a community tradition since 1950. It hurt to cancel it,” said Molina said.

However, seeing all the first responders fight the fire so bravely inspired the team.

“We saw so many firefighters staging nearby. We knew our city and county firefighters were on the front lines, but we also met a team from Napa, who was working with a crew from Alaska," Molina said.

"Engines from all over California were here, and Cal Fire was a huge presence. Then we saw an engine from north Texas go by, plus all the police, sheriffs and CHP personnel trying to keep everyone safe in the evacuations.

"We’ve just never seen a response like that — 8,500 first-responders came from all over to help us. They saved us,” she said.
“We have to honor that, we have to honor them,” she said. “That day of the flare-up in the Montecito mountains, everyone from the Eastside could see those flames up close.

"You realize, in a situation like that, how your entire community is dependent on these first-responders. They defended us from that fire with everything they had.”
So the Milpas Community Association decided to honor all first-responders in its parade.

“We want to cheer for them as they go down Milpas, and have everyone thank them with all their hearts,” said Mary Robles, MCA board member and Milpas Parade organizer. “We invite the entire city to Milpas to honor them.”
The parade will start on Milpas at De La Guerra and roll down to Yanonali Street. Milpas restaurants and merchants will welcome the Thomas Fire teams and parade spectators.

“The first-responders are so brave. They helped us so much. Our city was in trouble. I was very afraid of that fire. It was awful. I prayed for them during the fire. Without them, our city would not be here," said Maria Perez, owner of Musical Centro on Milpas.

"I can’t wait to give them a big hug and tell them thank you. You risked your lives for us. God bless you,” she said.

Jim Crook, a longtime business owner on Milpas Street, has been busily helping to organize the parade.

“I think we should start the parade with a moment of silence for the fallen firefighter," he said. "That was tragic, the greatest sacrifice of all. Our community will come together to recognize him and the huge sacrifice he made.”

Santos Guzman, owner of El Bajio restaurant and MCA board member said, “They are our heroes. We must honor them. And we will. Our city owes these brave people the biggest thanks.

"We can never repay what they did for us. But at least they will know we saw their sacrifice. That we honor it. That is the most important thing.”

—  Bea Molina for Milpas Holiday Parade.


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