L.A. Co. firefighters feature World Trade Center hydrant on Rose Parade float
The parade float entry is being sponsored by the L.A. County Firemen’s Benefit and Welfare Association, and is being built to honor all the fallen heroes and those who were first to respond to the crisis. The year 2011 marks the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“(The fire hydrant) stands as a mythological symbol of our country’s strength; we won’t be defeated,” said Jerry Thomsen, organizer of the float.
Thomsen went to New York to lend emotional support to fire crews and residents just weeks after Sept. 11. “While I was there I heard people repeat over and over those two words following the terrorist attacks that killed close to 3,000 people: Never forget. In the 10 years since, I have been searching for a way to express those words in a public tribute to the NYPD. I think I’ve found it with this.”
He contacted Charisma Floats to design the entry, and applied for an exception to the rule that requires every inch of a float in the Rose Parade to be decorated with natural materials like flowers, seeds, fruit, vegetables, and organic produce. Nothing can be dyed or spray-painted; everything must be natural.
Because of the significance of this fire hydrant and the fact that it is a piece of history, parade officials made an exception.
The fire hydrant was given to the Los Angeles County Fire Museum by the Fire Department of New York City, in appreciation of Los Angeles County Fire- men’s commitment and help in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The fire hydrant was found in the rubble of the World Trade Center totally intact and nearly incinerated by the subsequent fires and the collapse of WTC 7, the 50-story building located by Tower One.
As part of the tribute thousands of vials holding individual roses in the parade contain messages from Americans who wanted to remember their loved ones with messages of remembrance and hope.
Southern California Girl Scouts and Brownies, some of whom were not even born yet on Sept. 11, have been meticulously working on writing each of the nearly 3,000 names of the victims on the vials so that all are represented. They are even adding to the vials if the victims were in a building or on a flight.
For Merrie and her husband, the effort has been a journey that has introduced them to people from all walks of life affected by the terrorist attacks.
“Writing the names and messages on the vials didn’t just give these people the opportunity to make a donation to the float, but allowed them to tell their story and claim this entry as America’s float,” Merrie said. “We are so grateful for all those we met and made this moment a possibility.”