The glow of a blue searchlight rises from the ground into the clouds in the night sky.
A blue searchlight reaches from the ground into a cloudy night sky during the 9/1 debris flow commemoration in 2021. Credit: Marco Farrell

As the five-year mark of the 1/9 debris flow approaches, the community is invited to attend a commemorative ceremony called Raising Our Light, 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9 at Montecito Union School.

Participants will gather in the school courtyard for a short program of speakers and reading of the names of the 23 people who lost their lives on Jan. 9, 2018.

Bells will ring out 23 times from local churches and schools, Montecito firefighters will light 23 candles in honor of the lives lost, and those attending will pause for a moment of silence.

A searchlight will be illuminated as a beacon of community support and solidarity from Montecito Union School.

Soup, coffee and hot chocolate will be provided by the Rosewood Miramar Montecito.

KEYT NewsChannel will provide a livestream of Raising Our Light on its website,

Raising Our Light is a collaborative effort by the Montecito Community Partnership Team including Montecito Fire Protection District, Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade, Montecito Association, Montecito Journal, Montecito Union School District, Cold Spring School District, and the Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness.

It is normal to experience feelings of fear, anxiety and sadness at the anniversary of a disaster, according to the Community Wellness Team (CWT), which was created to support local residents following the Thomas Fire and 1/9 debris flow.

Representatives of the CWT will be onsite for the Raising Our Light ceremony to offer support for anyone in need or looking to connect. Community members can contact CWT at any time at 805-364-2750.