More than 400 turned out to participate in the third annual First Responders Appreciation Day in Ripon.
The event allowed residents to show their appreciation for police, fire and medical personnel.
The event started Saturday at 8:30 a.m. as residents gathered at the Ripon Police Department for the mile-long march to the Ripon Consolidated Fire Department on Stockton Avenue. The parade was led by a JROTC honor guard that carried the American and California flags.
Both San Joaquin County Sheriff Patrick Withrow and Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse joined the Ripon residents when they arrived at the fire department headquarters. Sheriff Dirkse served as the keynote speaker talking about crime in the Central Valley and the need for public support. He had been asked to speak by Councilman Michael Restuccia because of the death of Newman Police Department Corporal Ronil Singh.
Singer Camila Munoz, 10, received a thunderous applause for her singing of the National Anthem.
Restuccia introduced Assemblyman Heath Flora crediting him as being “a doer, not just a talker” for having introduced two public safety bills onto the floor for this legislative session. They include Assembly Bill 401 which enhances DUI penalties for drivers who have been convicted of multiple DUIs. He has also co-authored AB 1713 which would lower the legal driving under the influence blood content limit from .08 to .05.
Flora also credited for AB 579 a bill that he authored into law that is a firefighter pre-apprenticeship program developing a program to recruit candidates from under represented groups.
Flora also serves as a volunteer battalion chief for the Salida Fire Department. Flora noted that May will be recognized as the International Firefighters Day throughout the state of California.
The First Responders movement began some four years ago when a committee of eight Ripon residents gathered together and hashed over the idea of bringing the community together to show their appreciation for the first responders.
The members of the committee included Liz Forks, Chuck Roots, Mike and Mona Restuccia, Carol Bowman, Daniel Pierce, Laura and Ken Spence, Jason Laughlin and Rick Van Unen who has paid for the T-shirts every year of the event.
The gathering at the fire department followed the lead at the police headquarters where free T-shirts were handed out to the first 100 residents to walk through the front door received a shirt. Challenge coins and hats were also available for sale.
Firefighters hung their large battalion flag in front of their building for all to see with a couple of engines on display for the benefit of the town’s children who were quick to attempt to climb up behind the wheel.
Residents of the Bethany Nursing Home on Main Street were seated in front of their building watching the parade go by.
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