Chief tapped as grand marshal

Chief tapped as grand marshalIn honor of the exemplary leadership of Ridgecrest Chief of Police Jed McLaughlin in the wake of Ridgecrest’s recent earthquakes, organizers of the Sept. 7 Parade of 1000 Flags have tapped him to be the parade’s the grand marshal.

“Selecting McLaughlin was the obvious choice, as he was referred to time and again — by our community and visitors alike — as the hero who stepped up to the plate and tirelessly answered the call of everyone impacted by the earthquakes,” said Pat Farris, parade chair.

The parade is the kick-off to the annual Remembrance Field, a partnership between Ridgecrest Exchange Club and China Lake to honor the fallen and first responders of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“Remember 9-11 is the central focus of the event,” said Farris.

“An important part of that is honoring our first responders who risked their own lives rushing into an inferno to save others.”

She noted that after the quakes, a selfless commitment to service was demonstrated by local first responders — as well as those from many outside agencies who came to our aid. Our local police chief was at the heart of setting that tone, she said.

“For days and nights on end, McLaughlin was there for people who lost homes, needed food, or just needed comfort.”

Each year the parade attracts upwards of 1,000 flagbearers, who march along arterial roads to plant flags at Freedom Park.

Farris noted that this is the same venue of two community-building events following the earthquakes.

While the costs of those events were largely borne by the Evan Etoch Memorial Foundation and Toyota of Ridgecrest, McLaughlin played a key role in staging the events.

“These efforts to strengthen the ties in our community are one of the things that set us apart,” said Farris.

“The parade will once again draw thousands from near and far to celebrate the spirit of patriotism and the values of God and country. We have been referred to by some in high places as the most patriotic community in America.”

Anyone wishing to carry a flag in the parade should meet at 8:30 a.m. at the Sierra Lanes parking lot. The parade begins at 9 a.m., moving north along China Lake Boulevard.

The route continues west along California Avenue, ending at Freedom Park, which will be host to a brief ceremony — opening with the “Choir of 1000 Voices” singing “God Bless America.”

The Remembrance Field will remain on display through Sept. 14.

Another highlight of the event will be a candlelight vigil at Freedom Park, to be held Wednesday, Sept. 11, at dusk.

Pictured: RPD?Chief Jed McLaughlin (left) and Detective Franklen Mixon cary flags in the Parade of 1000 Flags — Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2019-08-23