Town of Paradise gathers for Camp Fire remembrance ceremony

The+Campfire+Remembrance+Ceremony+was+held+at+Paradise+Alliance+Church+and+it+was+full+to+capacity+with+townsfolk.+Photo+credit%3A+Julian+Mendoza
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Town of Paradise gathers for Camp Fire remembrance ceremony

The Campfire Remembrance Ceremony was held at Paradise Alliance Church and it was full to capacity with townsfolk. Photo credit: Julian Mendoza

The Campfire Remembrance Ceremony was held at Paradise Alliance Church and it was full to capacity with townsfolk. Photo credit: Julian Mendoza

The Campfire Remembrance Ceremony was held at Paradise Alliance Church and it was full to capacity with townsfolk. Photo credit: Julian Mendoza

The Campfire Remembrance Ceremony was held at Paradise Alliance Church and it was full to capacity with townsfolk. Photo credit: Julian Mendoza

Ricardo Tovar and Julian Mendoza

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Paradise Alliance Church was packed with townsfolk affected by last year’s Camp Fire. Food and games were provided from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. when the ceremony began.

Residents gathered for a tribute and to hear speeches from Paradise Mayor Jody Jones, Vice Mayor of Paradise Greg Bolin, Paradise Alliance Church pastor Josh Gallagher and town council members Mike Zuccolillo, Steve Crowder and Melissa Schuster.

Even President Gayle Hutchinson spoke a few words to those in attendance.

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“The story of our community is ours to write,” Jones said to open up the ceremony. “I want to thank each one of you for being here. I can feel the strength of our community in this room tonight.”

The spirits of 85 people lost in the Camp Fire was remembered and a moment of silence was held for them, as well as an acknowledgment that Nov. 8, 2018, will forever be a day that will live in the history of Paradise as it strives to rebuild and look to the future. Even though these people’s lives may be lost, they will never be forgotten.

The Mayor of Paradise Jody Jones speakes during the Camp Fire Commemoration Evening Program. @theorion_news #TheOrion pic.twitter.com/uHzLs8902z

— Ricardo Tovar (@rtovarg13) November 9, 2019

” data-camayak-embed-provider=”undefined” class=”oembed” contenteditable=”false”><blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>The Mayor of Paradise Jody Jones speakes during the Camp Fire Commemoration Evening Program. <a href=”https://twitter.com/theorion_news?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@theorion_news</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheOrion?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#TheOrion</a> <a href=”https://t.co/uHzLs8902z”>pic.twitter.com/uHzLs8902z</a></p>&mdash; Ricardo Tovar (@rtovarg13) <a href=”https://twitter.com/rtovarg13/status/1192996563133460480?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>November 9, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

“Tonight it is difficult to move forward without another offering of love, sorrow and condolence to those that are no longer with us,” Vice Mayor of Paradise Greg Bolin said. “Most importantly to the families, friends and to our community, who suffered a great loss. It is for these individuals that we vow to recover and restore our town to make it safer and more resilient.”

Pastor Josh Gallagher said that through good times and bad the town of Paradise is a family and those lost in the fire will be remembered and dearly missed. Gallagher asked for individuals to rise who had lost someone they knew in the Camp Fire. Many in the packed hall rose and Gallagher offered words of encouragement. If they need shelter they have a home at the church, if they need a meal kitchens are open for them, if they need a long walk the church can hold their hand, he said.

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Those who knew somebody that was taken from them in Camp Fire were told to stand up. Photo credit: Ricardo Tovar

“No family is hit harder than when it is tested through loss,” Gallagher said. “Our community lost 85 members of our family on Nov. 8th. Some of us didn’t know these people personally, some of us did know them. Regardless of your connection with these people, they are forever apart of this family on the ridge.”

Melissa Schuster came up and revealed plans for “Hope Plaza” that will unveil in 2020. It will help commemorate those whose lives were affected and lost during the Camp Fire. So that the memory of that tragic day will forever stay in the hearts of the town of Paradise.

Council Member Melissa Schuster talks about “Hope Plaza” that will unveil in 2020. It will help commemorate those whose lives were affected and lost during the Camp Fire. @theorion_news #TheOrion pic.twitter.com/gmAFTGdfMT

&mdash; Ricardo Tovar (@rtovarg13) November 9, 2019

” data-camayak-embed-provider=”undefined” class=”oembed” contenteditable=”false”><blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Council Member Melissa Schuster talks about “Hope Plaza” that will unveil in 2020. It will help commemorate those whose lives were affected and lost during the Camp Fire. <a href=”https://twitter.com/theorion_news?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@theorion_news</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheOrion?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#TheOrion</a> <a href=”https://t.co/gmAFTGdfMT”>pic.twitter.com/gmAFTGdfMT</a></p>&mdash; Ricardo Tovar (@rtovarg13) <a href=”https://twitter.com/rtovarg13/status/1193005390360743941?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>November 9, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

Gayle Hutchinson was the last speaker on the night and reminded folks that there is a brighter future for Paradise. The townsfolk can make it better and safer than it was before. By creating more diverse businesses, increaseing Paradise’s range of housing, rebuilding Paradise’s economy, making Paradise greener, making a more walkable downtown and improving access to parks and open spaces there is a better Paradise insight.

One I forgot to share from last nights #CampFire Remembrance Ceremony was the closing song form Paradise Elementary. @theorion_news #TheOrion pic.twitter.com/NnDzQWN8GE

&mdash; Ricardo Tovar (@rtovarg13) November 10, 2019

” data-camayak-embed-provider=”undefined” class=”oembed” contenteditable=”false”><blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>One I forgot to share from last nights <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/CampFire?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#CampFire</a> Remembrance Ceremony was the closing song form Paradise Elementary. <a href=”https://twitter.com/theorion_news?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@theorion_news</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheOrion?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#TheOrion</a> <a href=”https://t.co/NnDzQWN8GE”>pic.twitter.com/NnDzQWN8GE</a></p>&mdash; Ricardo Tovar (@rtovarg13) <a href=”https://twitter.com/rtovarg13/status/1193339460152250369?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>November 10, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>

“It was really a healing event,” Victoria Sinclaire, who lost her home in the Camp Fire, said. “It was nice to see thousands of people in the community all day long. Meeting back up with people who have moved away from the fire, are not gonna rebuild or have purchased elsewhere. It was also great to celebrate with those, like us, who have rebuilt their home and are finally home.”

Ken Brow, another Paradies resident who recently had his home rebuilt, shared in the optimistic sentiment of the night and said he enjoyed seeing everyone united as one community. He can usually be seen around Paradise with his bird Jayda on his shoulder. It is a small way he can cheer people up because according to him when they see his bird people can’t help but smile.

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Ken Brow, a Paradise carpenter, and his bird Jayda are Camp Fire survivors who attended the remembrance ceremony. Photo credit: Ricardo Tovar

“I’ve been here since 69 and now I see people getting together,” Brow said. “It’s unfortunate it took a disaster to get everyone really stong, as one. But here it is and hopefully, it’ll stay that way.”

Ricardo Tovar can be reached at [email protected] or @rtovarg13 on Twitter.

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