The crowd lining Laurel Canyon Boulevard on Sunday, Nov. 11, might have been unaware that the Woolsey Fire burning miles away from Malibu to Agoura Hills was having an impact on The 15th annual San Fernando Valley Veterans Day Parade in Mission Hills.
But the Caltrans workers that would normally be closing off the 118 Freeway offramp on Laurel Canyon Boulevard had been called away to help bolster personnel being called in to work at command posts along the fire route.
Thanks to a collaboration of officers from the LAPD Mission Hills and Foothill divisions, the parade was merely delayed from its traditional 11:11 a.m. starting time, and allowed to proceed as scheduled.
“Caltrans, from what I was told, had sent those workers to the fire department command post because the winds had picked up,” said Fred Flores, parade founder and director. “And the CHP couldn’t come over because they were also needed for the fire.”
That included the CHP officers, all military veterans, who were to be grand marshals in this year’s parade
“We certainly didn’t want to cancel the parade,” said Flores, who had stopped the event moments before the first parade vehicles had reached the reviewing stand. “But if we didn’t get that offramp closed, it would have meant that cars could have come off the freeway there and unknowingly turned into the parade” which ended at the Richie Valens Community Center on Paxton Street.
Two LAPD officers — Phillip Ruiz from the Mission Hills Division, and Steve Nunez from the Foothill Division — got the okay from their superiors to go ahead and shut down the offramp, which they did, Flores said. Both divisions had to agree because both share coverage of the 1.1 mile parade route.
Instead of no parade, there was only a 10-minute delay in the start time.
“This is the one day our veterans get to be honored, and everybody — especially Ruiz and Nunez — went above and beyond,” Flores said. “They really stepped up.”
Allowing the parade to march along as scheduled, and stay close enough to its two-hour time limit.
“At a time when our troops are actively engaged in Afghanistan and throughout the world, the San Fernando Valley Veterans Day Parade is particularly important to the proud Veterans, families of Veterans and troops from the San Fernando Valley,” Flores said.
Flores said an estimated 2,000 Veterans, representing all branches of the military from the WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, Desert Storm and and other combat participated in the parade.
Also appearing and performing was the San Fernando High School Band. (A band from Beverly Hills High was scheduled to perform, Flores said, but canceled, citing concerns about air quality. Because of the winds, there were nothing by blue skies.)
Also appearing were ROTC units from the high schools of Canoga Park, Kennedy, Monroe Reseda and Van Nuys and the North Valley Military Institute.
This year’s Veterans Day also marked the Centennial Commemoration of the end of WWI, on Nov. 11, 1918.